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Hamden Public Library Gets New Director

The search for a new library director is over, but the price was higher than some on the Legislative Council would have liked.

 

After months without a permanent leader, the Hamden Public Library has a new director, but some on the Legislative Council opposed how in part she will be paid.

The Legislative Council approved Marian Amodeo to replace former director Robert Gualtieri, who retired in February.

They also approved her salary, which is higher than was budgeted and will in part be paid through the Library Gift Account.

Amodeo spent the last two years in the chief public services offices at the Hartford Public Library. Before that, she worked for 34 years at the Newington Public Library, including 14 as its director.

She said she was attracted to Hamden as a community.

"I wanted to be in a town that is vital like this town is, where the residents are engaged" she said. "I wanted to be part of that, and the library is where that takes place."

"The library can and should be the hub of the community," she said. "I want to work with the staff and the board to bring it to where it should be -- a 21st century library."

In Hartford, her position was more administrative and kept her away from the public, Amodeo said, but that won't be the case in Hamden.

"I'll be right there behind the desk where everyone can see me," she said. 

One of her priorities is keeping the library on the "cutting edge" of technology, she said.

"Libraries have had to get hands-on experience in technology," she said. "It is crucial that libraries function as information centers and need to be always on the cutting edge. 

"It's crucial that they be were people in the community are that may not have computer access," she said, "that they provide that access."

While the council approved the appointment, it wasn't without controversy -- not over Amodeo herself, but over her salary, part of which is being paid through the Library Gift Account.

Because the starting salary is $5,000 more than the $80,000 budgeted, the difference for the next two years will come from the Library Gift Account, which the council approved with two members -- Harry Gagliardi and Austin Cesare -- opposing.

"I have a problem amending salary acts," Gagliardi said. "We are in debt, the pension fund is not funded, and now we are increasing a salary -- I have a problem with that."

"I agree it is a slippery slope," Cesare said.

Councilwoman Kath Schomaker said it is money well spent.

"We live in an information age and we need a sophisticated professional manager for our local community information system," she said. "I am just pleased that the increase doesn't need to be higher than it is. and I believe it is necessary and don't see it as a slippery slope -- I see it as a good price for a head librarian."

Ted B September 10, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Was the extra $5,000 really that important to her that they had to raid the library gift fund? Really? that seems rather greedy. I'm sure in this economy another candidate as well qualified could have been found willing to take the job at the offered salary. There was no reason to have to bend over backwards to give this woman extra money in this economy when there are so many people looking for jobs. A friends daughter went for a job as a library assistant at QU and didn't get the job because they told her that they had so many people applying for that job who had MLS degrees even though it didn't require it. So to give extra money to this woman is a disgrace and shows how the council is just not looking out for the best interests of the town. I'm sure she will be a fine librarian and it's not personal but in this economy job candidates should not be calling the shots in terms of salaries.
Trip Kirkpatrick September 11, 2012 at 02:28 AM
80 grand? That's all we list for one of the most important jobs in the town? Someone with a career's worth of experience in public libraries? 16 grand less in starting salary than the chief of police? We're lucky anyone is willing to take the job.
Lisa M. November 28, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Librarians are traditionally undervalued, perhaps because the impression is we just sit around reading stories to children instead of working on budgets, technology, human resources, community relations and services, educational services, grants, and community partnerships, or perhaps because it is a field traditionally dominated by women. A newly minted MLIS cannot handle a multi million dollar budget and services for an entire community, or handle capital improvements and/or building projects. I hardly think that most large businesses would just hire anyone with an MBA to become CEO, and we need to recognize that it is an equivalent position.

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