February 12, 2019 – Executive search firm Bradbury Miller Associates, formerly known as Gossage Sager Associates, has placed Roberta Phillips as the new CEO of Prince George’s County Memorial Library System in Largo, MD.
“The board is extremely impressed with Roberta’s experience, knowledge and commitment,” said Samuel Epps, board president. “Her leadership style, record of innovation, fiscal management, team building and community involvement makes her the leader that the board was seeking to head the library system.”
Ms. Phillips previously served as director of planning and projects for the Richland Library in Columbia, SC, which includes a main location and 11 branch locations serving close to 415,000 people. During her tenure at Richland Library, she worked on strategic plan initiatives, community engagement and special projects. Notably, Ms. Phillips coordinated interiors, space planning and customer experiences for 12 building projects with three new facilities and nine renovations, including renovation of the organization’s 240,000-square-foot main library. Before that, she was director of the Orangeburg County Library in Orangeburg, SC.
Named a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal in 2013, Ms. Phillips has been recognized for her work with a broad range of library customers, both in school and public libraries. Her commitment to customer-focused services, including enhancing collections and sharpening customer service approaches, has been instrumental in the library field.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the new CEO for the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System,” said Ms. Phillips. “Libraries have the responsibility to advance our communities and affect lives in meaningful ways. Together we will explore imaginative ways through engagement, enrichment and education, to create our preferred future for all residents of Prince George’s County.”
Libraries Looking for New Leaders
Bradbury Miller specializes in executive searches for the library sector. About 80 percent of the firm’s work is for public libraries, though it also conducts searches for state libraries, library networks or consortia and academic libraries. The firm, which was founded in 1983, has conducted about 130 searches to date.
Its practice is national in scope and its library leadership searches read like a Who’s Who of this small, but important niche. The firm has completed director searches for the Westport (CT) and Carmel Clay (IN) libraries as well as public library directors in Denver, Pierce County (WA), New Haven (CT), Las Vegas-Clark County (NV), Sonoma County (CA), Wooster (MA), Boulder (CO), Mobile (AL), Baton Rouge (LA) and Berkeley (CA).
Like most sectors, libraries are anticipating high turnover as aging Baby Boomers continue their migration into retirement. A recent American Library Association study projected that 28 percent of U.S.-based working librarians are expected to retire by 2020.
“The uptick in searches throughout the field has been growing for the last couple of years,” said Mr. Bradbury. “Finding the best library president, CEO, executive director, or director — probably the most important decision a sitting library board or commission will make — is becoming more challenging because many of the logical successors who have been serving in deputy, assistant or associate director roles are aging baby boomers themselves.” The pools of willing and able prospects are, therefore, shrinking, he said.
“Libraries are seeking dynamic leaders with a vision for what the library can be for the communities they serve,” said Mr. Bradbury. “Governing boards are looking for top drawer talent to serve as inspirational leaders who are collaborative in building meaningful community partnerships.”
“Fortunately, there are strong library credentialed leaders out there who can fill the bill, but they have to be sought out,” said Mr. Bradbury. When not bound by other requirements, governing boards, he added, often look for leaders from other industries, including non-profit, education, government and even the private sector.
Search Firms Stepping Up
Search firms across the nation are finding library leadership needs rising dramatically. Here’s a recent sampling of some recent important searches in the sector from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:
Phillips Oppenheim has been retained by the Newberry Library, an independent research library in Chicago, to lead its search for a new president. Principal Susan L. Meade and founding partner Jane Phillips Donaldson are leading the assignment.The Newberry’s next president should be a successful leader…
Boston-headquartered search firm Arts Consulting Group (ACG) has placed Cecilia Rokusek as the new president and CEO of the National Czech & Slovak Library and Museum (NCSML) in Cedar Rapids, IA. Dr. Rokusek has held top academic and administrative positions at numerous colleges and universities for more than four decades.
Vernon Hills, IL-based search firm John Keister & Associates recruited Selina Gomez-Beloz as executive director of the Waukegan Public Library in Lake County, IL. Ms. Gomez-Beloz has over 20 years’ experience working in a variety of library settings.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media