January 24, 2013

Oakland library staff to shrink with head librarian's departure

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

OAKLAND -- The public library will be run with three people instead of the current four for at least the next year, beginning when head librarian Carol Cooley retires at the end of the month.

During a Town Council meeting Wednesday, Town Manager Peter Nielsen said the town owes Cooley appreciation for the library's growth during her 16 years of leadership.

"The library's come a long way, certainly," Nielsen said.

Nielsen said Cooley, 65, has done a good job of improving the library's programs and facilities while controlling the budget.

In 2003, the library underwent a million-dollar renovation that doubled its space, made it handicapped-accessible and added parking. It was the first expansion since the library was built in 1913.

Rather than hire a head librarian, the council approved Nielsen's recommendation to promote assistant librarian Sarah Roy to the top spot. Two library aides also will receive a pay raise to reflect the added levels of responsibility they will bear with Cooley gone.

With only three salaries instead of four, the overall library budget is expected to shrink.

"One advantage is that it will save the town some money," Nielsen said.

Despite the smaller staff, Nielsen said, the library will maintain its hours and two people will continue to be on duty at all times.

A pool of four substitute workers has been identified to fill any gaps in the workforce, he said.

Cooley endorsed the plan and said the staff has acted well in her absence in the past.

"I can't praise them high enough," she said.

The council agreed to review the situation again in one year to see whether the reduced staff is able to run the library effectively.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287

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