West Tisbury library director departs suddenly
The recent resignation of Howard Curtis, director of the West Tisbury library since last June, was sudden and unexpected for most townspeople, library board chairman Hermine Hull confirmed last week.
The reasons behind Mr. Curtis's departure are being closely held. Three members of the library board reached for comment by The Times would only say that Mr. Curtis left for personal and health reasons.
Mr. Curtis could not be reached for comment by The Times.
Changes lie ahead at the West Tisbury library. Photo by Susan Safford
"For a lot of the community, it was unexpected," Ms. Hull said, but chose not to explain the reasons for Mr. Curtis's sudden departure three weeks ago. Instead, she wanted to focus on the future and assure the community that the library is in good hands.
"I want to assure the public we're really in good shape," Ms. Hull said. She said the unexpected situation has caused the library staff, board of trustees, friends of the library and community to rally.
"The whole staff has been unbelievable. They stepped up to the plate and took over," she said. "This has brought us closer together." Community members have also volunteered to help out at the library.
Assistant librarians Nelia Decker and Beth Kramer volunteered to serve jointly as directors on an emergency basis until the library board can find an interim librarian. The arrangement will allow each of the women to continue her same duties. Ms. Decker is in charge of the children's section and Ms. Kramer handles the adult section.
"They complement each other's strengths," Ms. Hull said.
An advertisement will be placed in the local newspapers this week for the interim position, Ms. Hull said, noting that there is a strong in-house candidate. The board also has formed a search committee to find a permanent director, and the committee has already met.
The library conducted a nationwide search for Mr. Curtis, who came to West Tisbury from Corona, Calif., where he had been the director of a large library for 10 years. A native of Haverhill, he was director of its library for 15 years until moving to California. He took an early retirement from the Corona library, which allowed him to come to the smaller West Tisbury library.
In an interview with The Times shortly after coming to the Island, Mr. Curtis expressed his excitement about his new job and said he was committed to the library's future. "This job has brought back all the energy that got me into the work in the first place," he said. When asked how long he planned to stay, he said, "At least five years. I hope that this will be my last job until I retire for real."