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Bayfield library faces setback in new director search

Director Shelley Walchak retires in January
Director Shelley Walchak stands in front of the Pine River Library in Bayfield. Walchak will retire in January.

The search for a new director of the Pine River Library in Bayfield was nearing an end, but after a candidate dropped out this week, the search will go into a second round.

Shelley Walchak, who has directed the library for six years, plans to retire in January. As of last week, two finalists for the director position, Jane Ellen Innes of Oregon and Kit Stephenson of Montana, had met with staff and community members. However, after Stephenson withdrew her application Tuesday, the board of trustees decided to try to expand the candidate pool.

“We were all kind of at a decision, that decision didn’t work out. ... It’s time to move on to our next steps,” said trustee Don Mooney during a discussion at the board meeting Wednesday.

Stephenson is the assistant director at Bozeman Public Library in Bozeman, Montana, and former regional manager for the Delta County Library District in Colorado. She earned a master’s degree in library science from Texas Woman’s University in 2005.

Innes is the director of the Jefferson County Library District in Oregon and former director of university libraries at Cleary University in Michigan. She earned her library science master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1992.

Don Mooney, Pine River Library board member, and Shelley Walchak, director of the library, open a bottle of champagne as they celebrate passage of a library district mill levy increase in 2019.

One board member said Stephenson withdrew her application because of the position’s compensation package during the meeting, but Walchak said it had more to do with personal and family reasons.

With Stephenson’s withdrawal, the board of trustees weighed options to hire Innis, bring in an interim director and/or reopen the applicant pool.

They decided to search for more candidates and to invite Innis to remain in the selection process. If the library needs an interim director, the board is considering pulling from existing staff members.

For Walchak, retiring in January means leaving a job and staff that she loves. She said she’ll miss everything except dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“After a certain period of time, it’s always good to get new blood in and new ideas,” Walchak said. “I think it’s a gift to know the right time to move on.”

Looking back, she was proud to help create the outdoor recreational space next to the library in 2017, and the library’s successful effort to gain funding through a property tax increase in 2019.

“I’m most proud of the team that we built to serve the public,” she said. “We really stay true to our tagline: connecting people with possibilities.”

smullane@durangoherald.com



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