The Springfield, IL Public Library has a new director, Summer Griffith
The Springfield City Council unanimously approved the appointment of summer griffith as permanent director of the Lincoln Library as more than two dozen of her colleagues applauded her on Tuesday.
Griffith, 40, who joined the library as community engagement manager in 2020, has been acting director since February 10.
The library’s former director, Rochelle Hartman, was fired January 20 after two and a half years.
Addressing some of the public library’s technology needs and community outreach are two things on Griffith’s to-do list.
Funding is also an issue. With approximately 40 full-time and part-time staff and an annual budget of just over $5.4 million, the library is “significantly understaffed and underserved and we want to see that increase so that we can do more for the community,” Griffith said after the meeting. “The truth is that we have a lot of work to do.”
Any concerns that Griffith, who grew up in Springfield, didn’t have a master’s degree in library science were aired ahead of the meeting.
About a dozen local librarians with MLS degrees have supported Griffith, including the former director Nancy Huntley.
Griffith is trained in trauma-informed healing and de-escalation. She holds a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts, both in communications, University of Illinois at Springfield.
“They made it very clear that what you need in running a library is not necessarily someone who can catalog books, but someone who has management experience – non-profit management profit, government affairs – and has the leadership abilities that I possess,” Griffith said. .
Ward 8 Ald. Erin Conley said earlier that it was his “priority that we have someone who has a solid background in librarianship that includes a formal education to run the library”.
But Conley said she “always keeps an open mind about such decisions” and that accredited librarians “speak highly” about how things have been going over the past few months under Griffith’s leadership.
Mayor Jim Langfelder said Griffith’s communication with staff is “the reason she was able to move the library in a positive direction in a short time”.
A grant Griffith wrote last year made “pop-up libraries” in Wards 2, 3 and 4 a reality.
Griffith said she would like to see “micro-branches” throughout the city. A bookmobile was funded by a trust, but in February, board members voted against money to staff two level 1 library positions.
Griffith is pushing for all computers used by the public to be replaced.
Griffith will win $94,000.
She and her husband, Matthew Griffith, an intensive care nurse at Springfield Memorial Hospitallives in Springfield and has two children.
This story will be updated.
Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, [email protected], twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.