WESTBROOK — The Walker Memorial Library is in the midst of transition as the board of regents looks for a new library director and the funds to hire a deputy director, a position cut from the budget in recent years.
Rebecca Albert stepped down as director for family reasons this week four years after taking the post.
Albert, a Westbrook native, came back to her hometown to work as the library’s director in February 2015 after working at libraries in New Hampshire for nearly 30 years.
“I’ve been very proud to be the director at my hometown library and the library I grew up in,” Albert said Tuesday. “I believe this library will continue to be a vibrant, important part of the community for years to come.”
Until a new director is hired, Adult Services Librarian Matthew Davis will assume some of Albert’s duties in managing the library and its operations. Davis is also serving as the interim deputy director.
Funding for a deputy director has been eliminated from the library budget in the past, but Judith Reidman, chairman of the library’s board of regents, said she is hopeful a request to fund the position in the fiscal year 2020 budget will be approved.
With Albert’s departure, the building will be closed on Saturdays until a permanent director is hired.
Reidman said the library has been closed on Saturdays before due to staffing issues.
“We think Saturdays will work. We keep good statistics based on the use. We are only open 9 to 1, so it is an abbreviated day,” she said.
The director position is being advertised now through May 4 and City Administrator Jerre Bryant would like to hire someone as soon as possible.
“Becky’s been great to work with,” he said. “She’s brought the library through the completion of a number of transitional projects, particularly relating to the interior of the library and the use of the local history room and gathering room and upgrades to those spaces.”
The renovation of the history and gathering rooms in the original part of the library has been particularly gratifying for Albert.
“One of the things I heard over and over again and people who work here have heard over and over again is ‘why can’t we go into the old part of the library and when is that going to be open to the public again,'” she said. “When I was hired that was one of the things the board indicated they wanted me to focus on and I am pleased we got it done.”
During Albert’s tenure, the adult services area also was renovated with new furniture and a more open feel.
“It has made the collection more accessible and more browsable,” she said.
Albert said she is proud to have hired a number of key employees who have helped provide better service to library patrons, including Enica Davis, the emerging technologies librarian who has increased the library’s marketing reach through its website, social media and printed newsletter.
Bryant said under Albert’s tenure, the library has really embraced expanding technology both in the building and for patrons looking to get the latest titles in ebook or audiobooks.
“A story is a story no matter what format it is in,” Albert said. “We hope to provide whatever people want in whatever format they want as much as we can.”
Reidman said Albert has also played a crucial role working with staff in creating thematic book displays and reading challenges, overseeing promotional campaigns, rebranding the library’s logo and website, weeding out outdated library materials and equipment, and launching a new computer management system and firewall.
Bryant said Albert “has certainly been continuing that evolution of how libraries go about playing a role in their community.”
Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mkelleynews
The city is seeking a replacement for Walker Memorial Libray Director Becky Albert, who has resigned after four years. Albert says she is proud of the completion of a years-long renovation to reopen the original part of the library to the public.