BARRE — Taking a page from a familiar playbook, trustees of the Aldrich Public Library have concluded a national search for a new director with another in-house promotion.
All they had to do was tinker with a title.
In a move that fills a key vacancy, trustees have stripped the word “interim” from Interim Library Director Loren Polk’s title and asked her to settle in to the role she had agreed to fill temporarily.
It is, by all accounts, a happy ending.
Polk gets to keep the job she agreed to fill while her predecessor, Sarah Costa, was out on maternity leave over the summer, and trustees get a test-driven and board-approved replacement for Costa, who unexpectedly resigned in May due to her family’s looming move from Barre.
Polk, who lives with her husband and three daughters in Berlin, ended up running the library while trustees searched for a permanent replacement for Costa, who was promoted to the position in 2015.
Nancy Pope, president of the library board, said in the end trustees didn’t have to look far because Polk was among those who applied for the job and she distinguished herself while serving as interim director since June.
“We had a wonderful opportunity to work with Loren over the summer and were impressed with her knowledge, positive attitude and kind heart,” Pope said of Polk, who was one of 15 applicants for the job.
Pope said the board narrowed the list and conducted several interviews — by phone and in person — before deciding to offer the job to Polk.
“We were very, very pleased with her ‘can-do’ attitude,” Pope said. “It seemed like the exact right decision to hire her.”
Polk, 39, said she wasn’t looking for permanent employment, but warmed to the idea after Costa announced her plans to resign and decided to apply for the job before the deadline in July. She’s happy she did.
“Working with the staff, collection and community at Aldrich has been a phenomenal experience,” Polk said. “I look forward to helping the library serve the community of Barre, and to bringing the stories and services of this institution to more people.”
Though Polk is relatively new to Vermont, having moved her family across the country from Washington about this time last year, she is no stranger to libraries. She previously worked in a variety of capacities, some supervisory, in four of the 12 branches of the Mid-Columbia Libraries in Kennewick, Washington. Last year she earned her master’s degree in library and information science from Wayne State University before moving to Vermont.
Polk said she was still “settling” her family when she added her name to the substitute list on the Vermont Library Association’s website. It was there that Costa spotted it while looking for someone to cover her maternity leave.
Though circumstances would later change, Pope said trustees were fortunate that Costa and Polk had an opportunity to work together while preparing for what all thought at the time would be a temporary transition. Costa’s willingness to remain on in a consulting capacity also proved useful.
Polk agreed, citing Costa’s work, as well as that of longtime library director Karen Lane, for making the Aldrich job so attractive. Costa was promoted following a national search that was launched when Lane announced her plans to retire after 26 years in 2015.
Aided my more than $130,000 in Promise Community funds and a $20,000 grant from the Tarrant Foundation, Polk said the library is now weeks away from beginning planned renovations to the Katherine Paterson Children’s Room. Work is scheduled to begin in mid-October and be finished some time in November.
During construction the children’s library will operate out of the nearby Milne Community Room.
Polk can’t take credit for any of that, though she did participate in the review of the final design. She also had a hand in filling two other vacant positions.
Pope said Polk participated in the hire of Garrett Grant as the young adult and new technology librarian, and Nick Landry to provide technical support.
“It’s her staff now,” she said of Polk, who has scheduled two “meet the director” events at the library next month.
One is set for Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m. and the other is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 11, at 11 a.m.
Polk, who is eager to take responsibility for the next chapter in the library’s story, wants to talk about its varied programs and services and role in the community.
“The best thing about libraries is that we can have this mix of contemporary use, community space and information and historical services,” she said, suggesting that, thanks to her predecessors, Aldrich checks all those boxes and then some.
“I’m just excited to be here,” she said. “It’s a great place.”