Ex-Salt Lake library chief offered local position

Fort Vancouver system trustees open talks with Tessman

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



Fort Vancouver’s library trustees want former Salt Lake City library director Nancy Tessman to lead their district.

The Fort Vancouver Regional Library District board voted 6-0 Monday morning to have chairman Bill Yee open contract negotiations with Tessman, one of three finalists who visited Southwest Washington earlier this month.

During a “meet and greet” on June 8 at the Vancouver Community Library, Tessman said she decided to take a break in 2007 when her career hit the 30-year mark.

Now she is ready to get back to work, the former director of the Salt Lake City Public Library told community members and library staff members.

During what she called a “super-sabbatical,” Tessman said she did some consulting. But after spending hours on the Web, looking at different library systems’ strategic plans, she realized: “Maybe I really ought to get back in the game,” Tessman said.

Following Monday’s vote, trustee Jane Higgins said that Tessman had read the minutes of the Fort Vancouver trustees’ board meetings for the past two years.

Yee said the applicants all had a pretty good idea of the job’s salary range and

benefits, so he hoped Tessman and the trustees would be able to come to an agreement within 10 days.

Compensation was described as competitive for a system of this size, Yee said. Former executive director Bruce Ziegman had a base salary of about $131,000 when he retired in October.

The other two finalists were Nicolle Davies, deputy director of the Arapahoe Library District in Englewood, Colo.; and Jody Risacher, director of the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center in Fayetteville, N.C. The opening drew 21 applicants.

Trustee Chris O’Malley, who has roots in the Salt Lake City area, said he was able to use some personal connections in evaluating Tessman’s qualifications. While he didn’t know Tessman, he knows plenty of people who do, O’Malley said — including a recent Salt Lake City mayor.

“I reached out to leadership with my community connections,” O’Malley said. His take was that Tessman worked well with library staff, as well as with community leaders, and “moved the district to new heights,” O’Malley said.

“I shared that with this group,” O’Malley said, referring to his fellow board members.

Trustees Rebecca Blaisdell, Jane Higgins, Brian Carrico, Bonnie Reynolds, Yee and O’Malley unanimously approved the choice. The seventh trustee, Todd Yuzuriha, was out of town.

The executive director will manage a system with an annual budget of about $24 million and about 200 employees. The district has 13 branches in an area of more than 4,200 square miles.

Operations Director Patty Duitman has been interim executive director since Ziegman’s retirement.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history; tom.vogt@columbian.com.