The four-month search is over.
The Blount County Public Library will have a new director in early 2022.
After the library board interviewed three candidates for the post of director in mid-October, it offered a job offer to Manuel “Manny” Leite, currently director of the Boyden Library in Foxborough, SK. Massachusetts.
Leite accepted the offer and will join the library at the end of January.
BCPL board chairman Andy Simon broke the news to the Daily Times early Monday.
âThe track record he has is great for us,â said Simon. âIt ties into everything we do and want to do in the future. “
Leite will bring 18 years of administrative experience and over six years as a director at Boyden.
He was one of three candidates approved by the board, staff and others in an extensive search and interview process initiated after the resignation of former library director KC Williams in may.
âI’m just excited and looking forward to working in the community,â Leite said by phone Monday. “Everyone I have met has been so welcoming and for the whole search committee everything was handled so professionally.”
StÃ©phanie by phone Monday congratulated the committee and the finalists for the work.
âWe had three very good candidates and so many good candidates,â said StÃ©phanie. “We were very happy with the whole process.”
Looping community members, local leaders and current library staff was a big part of the modus operandi of the search committee. The last time around, the library hired an outside company to research the candidates.
This time he went straight to the staff to get their advice.
The library’s director of adult services, Kathleen Christy, said by phone Monday that staff members were “hopeful” and “excited” about Leite.
âHe seemed very personable, intelligent, capable and knowledgeable,â she said. “He was nice and we hope and believe he will be a great representative of the library.”
Acquisitions Collection Librarian Kathy Thompson said she was impressed with the committee’s work. âI felt like they were invested in it and it wasn’t like a ‘rubber stamp’ thing,â she said.
Thompson and Christy both had advice for the new director.
âTake the time to get to know the staff individually,â said Thompson. âFind out more about their needs and perceptions. “
Christy encouraged him to approach the job with patience.
âListen to the staff,â she said. “Don’t rush into major changes.”
With advice from the current library management, Maryville and Alcoa hosted Monday.
âThis community is very proud of its investment in our incredible library, an icon of Maryville’s educational, cultural and geographic landscape,â said Maryville Mayor Andy White. âWe are delighted to welcome Manny Leite to his leadership role and look forward to the contributions he will make to continue the legacy of this community treasure. “
Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson congratulated Leite on being chosen for the role. “He is certainly well qualified and we look forward to working with him,” Johnson wrote on Monday. âWe would also like to thank the library board for their diligence in this selection process. They have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort narrowing the field of applicants down to three well qualified people and I am sure they have made the right choice for the future of our library.
Leite said he plans to spend his first year training as the new Blount Countian.
âThe first year is just getting to know the area,â he said. âIt means gaining the trust of the staff and bonding with the board of directors, local leaders, our group of friends (BCPL) and the Foundation (BCPL). “
He added that he is committed to taking a security-focused approach to breaking out of COVID boundaries and said he has in fact written a COVID-19 phase plan that other Massachusetts libraries have followed. .
Leite is looking to rent accommodation from the end of January until he can buy a house in the summer of 2022, which is difficult in what remains a tight local housing market. He said he was looking for a ranch-style house where, among other things, he and his wife could raise chickens.
Leite is joining the library’s leadership as many initiatives are under consideration, including an automated checkout and sorting system, a teen room and reinvigorated programming following slowdowns linked to the pandemic.
The person currently overseeing these moves is the Acting Director of the Library, Anjanae Brueland.
âEveryone here is excited about the news and we look forward to working with Mr. Leite,â said Brueland. âHis energy and experience will be a welcome addition and we look forward to what we can build together. The search committee did an outstanding job ensuring that staff feedback was collected, with time to analyze staff feedback and help inform their selection.