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Tompkins County Public Library Names New Director

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Tompkins County Public Library Names New Director

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Tompkins County Public Library Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of Annette Birdsall as the Library’s sixth director. Birdsall will replace Susan Currie, who will retire in October after more than eight years as Library Director.

“It is my honor to announce the Board’s unanimous selection of Annette Birdsall as the incoming director of the Tompkins County Public Library,” said Bruce Ryan, president of the library’s board of trustees, following a special August 29 meeting of the board. “We are impressed with her passion for libraries and their role in our community, and we’re confident that she has the leadership ability to build on our momentum and propel us forward.”

The current director of the Ulysses Philomathic Library (UPL), Birdsall received her Master of Library Science from Syracuse University. Prior to accepting the director’s position at UPL in 2012, Birdsall held positions with the Finger Lakes Library System, TCPL, the South Central Regional Library Council and Cornell University Library.

Birdsall will begin her tenure at TCPL October 11.

The national search for Currie’s replacement began in February and drew interest from 30 library leaders who were subsequently vetted by the Library’s search committee of trustees, staff and representatives from the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation, the Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library and the Finger Lakes Library System. Eighteen candidates from the original pool qualified to take a Civil Service examination administered by the Tompkins County Personnel Department.

Ryan said the process of finding a replacement for Currie was challenging, not only because the Board has an obligation to ensure that the community has the best library possible, but because Currie has provided outstanding leadership during her time at the Library’s helm. “It’s hard to separate leaders from the times and the circumstances in which they lead,” Ryan said. “Susan had the perfect blend of leadership skills to lead the library from where it was eight years ago to the wonderful place it is today. We recognized that we needed to find a leader who is talented and unique in her own way, with the perfect blend of leaderships skills to lead us forward from here.”

During her eight-year tenure, Currie helped establish TCPL as an award-winning model for peer libraries. Among her lengthy list of successes are a building-wide reorganization, which served to flatten the Library’s supervisory structure, providing increased leadership opportunities for staff members; advancing the progress of the County Library Budget Working Group and community engagement process, designed to identify sustainable funding for the Library; the successful 21st Century Library Campaign, which helped raise over $3.5 million in support of library programs and services; increased collaborations with local businesses and not-for-profit organizations; a reduction in barriers to access for families and young adults and strengthened relationships with UAW 2300, the labor union representing the library’s professional and support staff members. She is currently overseeing capital improvements and the construction of a 21st Century Learning Lab and teen center.

A public celebration of Currie’s leadership will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., during the Friday, October 13 unveiling of the Library’s teen center, innovation station and digital future’s lab.

For more information, contact Carrie Wheeler-Carmenatty, the Library’s public relations and external communications coordinator, at cwheeler@tcpl.org or (607) 275-1548.