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Saugus chooses Quincy woman as library director

SAUGUS – A Natick librarian has been chosen as director of the Saugus Public Library, a post vacated more than four years ago.The candidacy of Diane Wallace of Quincy was unanimously approved Monday by the six-member Library Board of Trustees, which during the past few months interviewed 11 candidates by phone or in person.Wallace, current director at Bacon Free Library in Natick, aced the barrage of questions from trustees, library staffers and the general public during a one-hour session last March. A Simmons College graduate with a master’s degree in library science, Wallace was assistant librarian at Brockton Hospital from 1974 to 2004.According to Wallace, she was attracted to Saugus because it seems “the right size” and as library director would be in a position to meet lots of people.Wallace praised the trustees for obtaining library recertification last December. “It means you are fighting for the kids,” she said.Wallace said young adults are not an age group that should be turned away. However, many don’t want to read in front of friends or else they get mired in the works of a single genre, like the Harry Potter books, she said.Pamela Gill, chairman of the trustees, said Wallace will assume her duties in early June at a salary of approximately $58,000. “She plans to give four weeks notice at the other library,” Gill said. “Our vote was unanimous and the general consensus is we are looking to head in a different direction, a new direction, and Diane has the experience. She has the aptitude. She has a very outgoing nature about her and we feel as though she will do well at our library dealing with the Town Meeting form of government.”Gill noted Wallace has experience with Town Meeting government in Natick. “She was also a member of the Board of Library Trustees at another library, so she has a different perspective from the other candidates,” she said. “She has been on both sides of the fence.”The director’s position has been vacant since the last director walked off the job in 2007. Ewa Jankowska, in charge of the library’s technical services and among the candidates for the director’s job, has served as part-time interim director for the past four years.Gill said Jankowska will return to her technical services position on a full-time basis. “Ewa was working both jobs, splitting her time. Now she will go back to technical services,” Gill said.”Diane will need a honeymoon period where she can observe and see what needs to be improved on. In any job, you have to get your feet wet. But we are anxiously anticipating her arrival. We look forward to bigger and better things and we are eliminating the word interim from the title.”One of the finalists, an Illinois librarian, dropped out of the running when he was offered a position in Wisconsin at the same salary. “The cost of living is cheaper there than it is in our neck of the woods,” Gill said.Wallace will lead a staff of 16. The library also has 20 volunteers.The new director’s initial hurdle is the town’s ongoing budget process, the first project a survey aimed at learning what the public wants from its library.During her interview, Wallace was asked how she might handle a staffing shortage. She recalled a situation in which she had to terminate a janitor to preserve an assistant librarian’s job. She hired a cleaning service to trim costs.”Diane will share ideas she had at her library in Natick. We’re hoping to build a strong connection to the School Department and hoping to increase services,” Gill said. “This was a long process and it took a lot of hard work, but I think we have chosen someone who has the necessary credentials and personality to make the Saugus library the best it can be.”

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