Following months of turmoil that saw two different interim leaders at the helm, the Riverhead Free Library’s board of trustees has made a decision on its new director.
Ten-year library employee Kerrie McMullen-Smith, who previously served as the head of adult and information services at the library before taking over as interim director in June, was appointed to the post at Tuesday’s board meeting.
“It’s a wonderful community and I’m very excited to be the new director,” Ms. McMullen-Smith said of the appointment.
The move comes nine months after previous director Joy Rankin resigned months shy of the expiration of a three-year contract that brought her to the library in August 2013.
During her months as interim director, Ms. McMullen-Smith has already brought change to the library, officials said. She mentioned that visits have increased and she’s working with other library staff to “weed out” books that haven’t been checked out in years and replace them with newer, more popular materials.
Ms. McMullen-Smith will be assisted by James Provencher, who will serve in a newly created role as library manager
“Kerrie and Jim are moving this library to the future, and I’m very happy about it,” said trustee Dean Terchunian at Tuesday’s meeting.
As library manager, Mr. Provencher will assist the library director by supervising both professional and nonprofessional staff as well as having responsibility for some programs and services.
He will also fill in for the director when necessary.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Mr. Terchunian said. “There’s a lot of cohesiveness with our new director and Jim and I think it’s going to work out great.”
Ms. McMullen-Smith was appointed to a two-year term beginning Jan. 10 with an initial salary of $88,000. Mr. Provencher was also appointed to a two-year contract with an initial salary of $66,442.
The appointments were late additions to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. Both were approved by a 6-1 vote, with trustee Eileen Mackey casting the lone opposing vote. Trustees Louise Wilkinson and Keith Bossey were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
The appointments were met with cheers from the audience.
“This is the best decision for the library and the community it serves,” said Liz Stokes, head of circulation at the library.
Photo: New library director Kerrie McMullen-Smith, right, and board president Kathy Berezny. (Credit: Nicole Smith)