Montclair Public Library Turns to Bradbury Miller to Find Next Leader

September 29, 2016 – Executive search firm Bradbury Miller Associates, formerly known as Gossage Sager Associates, has been retained by the Montclair Public Library to find a new director. David Hinkley has informed the board of directors that he will be retiring at the end of the year. Dan Bradbury, Bradbury Miller managing partner, is leading the search. His firm placed Mr. Hinkley into the library’s top role a decade ago.

Board member Clifford Kulwin is chairing the search committee, which includes trustees Eve Schaenen and Diana Lunin, and Alison Bauer, chair of the Montclair Public Library Foundation. He said the search process is expected to be completed within six months.

An Open Search Process

“Mr. Bradbury and his colleagues will make multiple visits to Montclair to reacquaint themselves with the library, as well as to interview staff members, library and town leaders, and other stakeholders,” said Mr. Kulwin. The firm will also hold open meetings for residents, along with online opportunities for the community to engage in the search effort.

“With the size and scope of our library, we really feel that we need someone to step in,” said Wilford Adkins, president of Montclair Public Library’s board of trustees. “We are hoping to have that person in place sometime around mid-November.”

Founded in 1893, Montclair Public Library serves the citizens of Montclair, NJ through two facilities: the Main Library and the Bellevue Avenue Branch.

Libraries Looking for New Leaders

Bradbury Miller specializes in executive searches almost solely 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 was founded in 1983 and has conducted approximately 130 searches to date.

Its practice is national in scope and its library leadership searches read like a Who’s Who in this small, but important niche. The firm has completed director searches for the Westport (CT) and Carmel Clay (IN) Library System outside Indianapolis, as well as public library directors in Denver (CO), 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 other 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.

An Uptick In Searches Expected to Continue

“The uptick in searches throughout the field has been happening 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,” he added.

Search Firms Stepping Up

“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.

Here is a brief look at what other search firms are doing to help find library leadership around the nation taken from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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