Bixby Library director Masha Harris resigns
VERGENNES — Bixby Free Memorial Library Director Masha Harris parted ways with the Vergennes institution last week after a little more than a year for reasons that remain unclear.
Bixby Board of Trustees Chairwoman Paula Moore told the Independent on Monday she could not discuss a personnel issue.
“It’s a personnel matter, so I can’t give you any comment. And that’s basically what I’ve instructed everybody to say,” Moore said. “She resigned her position effective immediately, and that’s it.”
Moore would not comment on whether the board asked Harris to resign or whether it was Harris’ choice.
“I can’t say any more than I have,” Moore said.
The Independent’s attempts to contact Harris were unsuccessful. An Oct. 23 post on Harris’ Facebook page stated “Left Job at Bixby Memorial Library.”
The Bixby board met on Monday night and agreed to offer the position of interim director to Maddy Willwerth, who has been working as the library’s Public Relations & Organizational Coordinator. Moore said she met with Willwerth on Tuesday, and that Willwerth agreed to accept the interim post.
Moore said the board is pleased Willwerth did so.
“Maddy is very capable, and she has been working closely with Masha and has a good grasp of basic administrative procedures, such as working on the payroll and doing accounts payable,” Moore said. “She has experience in customer service, has really a great feel for working with the public, and loves the Bixby.”
In a corresponding move, Moore said the board increased to full-time the hours of Bixby Adult Services Librarian Laksamee Putnam. She added the library would continue to rely on volunteers and substitutes to staff the circulation desks.
The Bixby board will start planning on how to find a permanent director at its Nov. 11 meeting, Moore said.
“It’s the board’s intention to take a little time to thoughtfully put together our thoughts about a job search,” she said. “It will be on our agenda to really think about what the library is looking for and what strategy we want to use to do this search.”
Moore said it was too early to say how long a process might take, or whether Willwerth might be considered for the permanent position.
“I think it’s premature for both of those things. Until the board decides the qualifications it’s looking for and where they would like to advertise the position we don’t have a time projection in mind. Everybody always hopes they can fill a position as quickly as they need to, but I think it’s important for the board to spend some time thinking about the qualifications that they’re wanting in their next director and how they want to go about filling that job.”
On Monday Moore was asked if the board was happy with Harris’ performance.
“She hired a new adult services librarian. We were working on programming and extending the reach of our programs in the community, which is extremely important. And we just enacted a new library policy that enables children of all ages to get library cards. They formerly had only been available to children 8 years old and over. Those are the few things I would highlight,” Moore said.
Harris, 34, is a Vermont native who attended Missisquoi Valley Union High School and Marlboro College. After extensive travels in Eastern Europe teaching English, Harris obtained her master’s degree in library information science from Kent State University. She worked as a librarian in Enosburg and at Houston’s Holocaust Museum before coming to the Bixby in the summer of 2018.
Harris soon bought a home in Vergennes and told the Independent in August 2018 she hoped to stay at the Bixby for a while.
“I want to make a name for myself in the Vermont library world, and in the national library world. I want to be presenting at the state conference within the next three years, and at (the) national conference in the next 10,” she said in August 2018. “And while I do that I want to make a name for the Bixby.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.
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