Berkeley Public Library has hired Jeff Scott as its new director of library services. He will step into the position Nov. 10.
Scott will replace Donna Corbeil, who held the position for nearly eight years and retired Oct. 3. As director, Scott will work with library trustees to oversee staff, manage the budget, identify areas for improvement and guide the direction of the library. Berkeley Public Library currently consists of five locations, with its central library located on Kittredge Street in Downtown Berkeley.
“Berkeley is such a historic community, and (that’s) something I’ve always been excited about,” Scott said, adding that he plans to engage community members. “I’m over-the-moon excited for this (position).”
Having worked in libraries for almost 17 years, Scott is currently the county librarian for the Tulare County Library. Before serving in this position, Scott was the library director for the Casa Grande Public Library for five years.
Scott said that as a director, being aware of the community’s priorities and adjusting to its needs is crucial. He noted that people are often surprised by what libraries — which are less constrained than other organizations because they do not have to satisfy specific quotas — can do to help the community.
“A library can be the glue and the grease of that community,” Scott said.
Sue Gillison, who works at the Tulare County Library and was Scott’s colleague for the past several years, said she appreciated Scott’s supportive leadership.
“He doesn’t micromanage,” Gillison said. “He lets people use their own creativity but is very responsive and supportive.”
During her time as director, Corbeil spearheaded Measure FF, a measure passed in 2008 that allowed for the renovation of four Berkeley Public Library branches. Since then, the library’s Claremont and North branches were remodeled, and its West and South branches — including the Tool Lending Library — were demolished and rebuilt.
“(The renovation) was sort of a crowning project of (Corbeil’s) tenure here,” said Abigail Franklin, chair of the Board of Library Trustees.
In 2010, a group of community members called the Concerned Library Users brought a lawsuit against the city claiming that Measure FF only allocated the renovation — and not the demolition — of the historic South and West branches. Berkeley settled the lawsuit in 2011 by creating a $100,000 fund to preserve historic buildings.
Franklin said the renovation provides a platform for Scott to come in and add additional programming and get more people interested in the library’s services.
“It’s exciting that we now have top-rate infrastructure for him to come in and do something dynamic and innovative,” Franklin said. “He’s creative and a leader in the field and a great communicator.