Library Board Chooses New Director
November 30, 2021 by Kathy McClure

After a months-long search, the Geauga County Public Library Board of Trustees finally chose a new leader — Kris Carroll

After a months-long search, the Geauga County Public Library Board of Trustees finally chose a new leader — Kris Carroll

Carroll — who has served as interim director since former Director Ed Worso stepped down in April — will officially take the helm following the trustees’ vote Dec. 21..

“The GCPL board members debated and discussed for a long time about what we wanted from our next library director,” said board President Joshua Hutchinson. “Kris Carroll has impressed us all with both her proven leadership skills and her vision of where we need to be going forward. We are truly excited to embark on the next chapter of our library system.”

Carroll brings 19 years of library experience to the job, having worked as assistant director for GCPL since 2016, and branch manager for both GCPL and Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library, as well as for Cuyahoga Community College’s Metro Campus Learning Center.

“Working with the staff to serve the Geauga County community over the past 10 years has been an honor and I am thrilled to take on this new role at GCPL. I look forward to working with our engaged staff, library board and the community to continue GCPL’s great work and carry out our vision for how the library can best serve the community,” said Carroll upon the announcement Nov. 30.

When asked about the future direction under her leadership, Carroll said, “The public library is part of a network of civic, educational, business and other organizations that share common interests. My intent is to work closely with individuals and groups throughout the community to find new means of connecting people so we can work together to accomplish shared goals and serve the needs of the community.”

In other business, the Geauga County Library Foundation named Vice President Erwin (Koko) Leffel as interim president following the resignation of Cathy Leary.

Leffel is the current chair of the newly-formed Foundation and Partners group, which was established following the dissolution of the Friends of the Library group.

Leffel lamented during the Nov. 16 library board meeting that since the Partners group was created during virtual meetings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, nuances were lost and there was lack of communication.

“We are trying to get structure in place to inform the board, foundation, administration, staff and managers as to what the Partners does. Our goal is to roll out a new product with better communication,” Leffel said. “Unfortunately, we did not do a good job of engaging with managers and others who are valuable to the plan.”

The Partners group will be an umbrella organization similar to the former Friends groups, with a focus on volunteering, donating and working on behalf of the library.

The library board also discussed salaries in the recent months. In 2008, trustees increased wages by 20-30%. Since then, Ohio’s minimum wage has increased by 33%.

Newly-appointed Trustee Kristen Brickman listed several benefits to increasing employee salaries, including becoming or remaining competitive, retaining quality employees, creating a high level of job satisfaction and value for employees, and fostering longevity.

“Everyone everywhere is having trouble finding and retaining people,” Hutchinson added.

The last pay increase (2.5-3%) to staff was in 2019, prior to the pandemic. Had the library board continued annual raises since then, they would have amounted to 7.5% to 9%.

During their Oct. 19 meeting, trustees decided they wanted to get ahead of incremental increases and agreed to adopt the recommendation of the budget committee. They voted in favor of a 10% increase across the board and a 12% increase for certain sectors of the employment grades that are particularly difficult to fill.

“Given inflationary pressures, we don’t want employees (or prospects) to go elsewhere,” said Trustee Kathryn Pitrone.