Berkeley Public Library heals with appointment of acting director

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The Berkeley Public Library Board of Trustees recently took action to appoint Elliot Warren, current deputy director at the Berkeley Public Library, or BPL, as the acting director of library services.

The deputy director fills in when the acting director is absent. Warren has been fulfilling the role of director since the resignation of his predecessor Heidi Dolamore two weeks ago.

Dolamore’s resignation — which came less than a year after her appointment — goes into full effect Sept. 22. No reason was given as to why Dolamore resigned.

Board of Library Trustees, or BOLT, member John Selawsky called Warren a good choice, stating that he will maintain continuity for the library. Selawsky also emphasized the importance of BOLT’s role in supporting Warren.

“He’s personable, he’s a good communicator — I think he’ll work well with the board and with library staff and with the community,” Selawsky said.

Councilmember Sophie Hahn — who also serves on the Board of Library Trustees — and Councilmember Kriss Worthington expressed similar sentiments, acknowledging Warren’s past involvement in the library.

“Elliott Warren is the prior director’s top gift to Berkeley,” Worthington said.

He added that Warren has demonstrated a deep appreciation of Berkeley values and an ability to be calm and thoughtful during a crisis.

According to Selawsky and Hahn, the process for choosing a new director will take a minimum of six months and will likely involve input from employees and library management as well as external stakeholders such as Friends of the Berkeley Public Library and the Berkeley Public Library Foundation.

Hahn said Warren is expected to evaluate the library as a whole to address long-term concerns that the staff and public have raised. Although the evaluation has been left to Warren’s discretion, Hahn said Warren has been asked to come back to the board with recommendations for improvement.

“The process itself is part of the stabilization and healing that needs to happen at the library,” Hahn said. “So the consultative process in and of itself can be very useful for the library and the community.”

Warren talked about a similar community focus and said he is looking forward to improving library services during his time as acting director. Specifically, Warren pointed to Cornerstones of Science, a new STEM initiative dedicated to providing programs for children and adults, as well as an expansion of public lending services to include scientific equipment such as telescopes.

“Libraries are a commons, a safe and welcoming place for all,” Warren said. “I think our staff are really, really invested in the community and supporting community interests and needs. My job (is) to help staff to identify opportunities to do … more than we have. ”

Contact Elena Aguirre at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @eaguirreDC.