New library director being hired

Jon Torkelson to work part-time
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
-A +A
Sierra College reference librarian Jon Torkelson will soon be the Twelve Bridges Library’s interim library director. Former city of Lincoln library director Darla Wegener left her position in August of this year for a new job in Southern California, according to previous News Messenger reports. Due to the city’s budget cuts, 50 percent of the library director salary was budgeted for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The city is in the process of hiring Torkelson, according to the city of Lincoln’s Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Anna Jatczak. The hiring of an interim library director was mentioned by Lincoln Councilman Gabriel Hydrick during the Nov. 8 City Council meeting. Hydrick said Torkelson was introduced to Library Advisory Board and Library Advisory Committee members during their joint meeting on Nov. 2. “I introduced the candidate for the interim position at the last LAB/LAC (Library Advisory Board/Library Advisory Committee) meeting since those meetings occur quarterly and I wanted the members to meet him sooner, rather than later,” Jatczak said. Jatczak “anticipates” that Torkelson’s hours and “hire paperwork” will be finalized this week. Torkelson will not receive benefits from the city, according to Jatczak. She said the interim library director will receive between $55 and $60 an hour for 20 hours a week. Wegener’s salary was $79,498 plus benefits. “I anticipate that Jon will be working for us part-time, through at least the end of the fiscal year,” Jatczak said. “He will be working with me to provide leadership and oversight of the Twelve Bridges Library, in addition to researching and implementing new service delivery models that will increase the community’s access to information in the most effective manner.” Torkelson, 62 , said he received his master’s degree in library sciences in 1975 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Torkelson said he has worked at libraries since 1986, starting at the Truckee branch of the Nevada County Library and retiring from the Auburn branch of the Placer County Library as a technology solutions librarian. Since retiring in 2004, Torkelson served as a part-time library programs consultant for the California State Library and is currently a part-time reference librarian at Sierra College. This will not be Torkelson’s first stint as an interim librarian, since he served as an interim county librarian this January through September for the Siskiyou County Library in Yreka. “I think the challenges the city of Lincoln faces and the Lincoln library faces are kind of common now,” Torkelson said. “It’s similar to what Siskiyou faced.” While working for Siskiyou County, Torkelson said, he developed a new “service model” with less staff providing “backbone services” for technology, communications and service. As a result of changing the service model, Torkelson said the library staff was reduced from 14.5 full-time employees to 3.2 full-time employees. Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Anna Jatczak said the library has two employees working ¾ time and “the rest are seasonal and equate to about 1.15 full time employees.” Layoffs of Lincoln’s library staff “won’t necessarily happen,” according to Torkelson. “It’s hard to draw a parallel between the two,” Torkelson said. “I wouldn’t say that kind of stuff is going to happen. Each community is a very different entity.” Torkelson said Siskiyou County is different compared to Lincoln “in that it’s a large spread-out county.” “Lincoln is a city. It’s more of a compact kind of thing,” Torkelson said. “It’s dissimilar enough to say one would need to look at where it’s at now and what would work.” Torkelson called the Twelve Bridges Library a “wonderful facility.” “My job right now is to support the great staff providing library services and to support and lead the City Council and city administration as we work on creating a future for the public library system,” Torkelson said. “In the beginning I need to get up to speed, work with the staff and the city and supporters in the community to make sure I have a clear picture of where we are.” Friends of the Lincoln Library member Shirley Russell wants to know “what it is he’s going to offer us.” “I’m not sure what it is that we need that he can provide. I don’t know what it is the city plans on having the person in this position do,” Russell said Monday. “I question him being with us because we don’t know what he can offer. We don’t know if he’s good for us or someone in that position.” Russell also said the money used to fund Torkelson’s position “could pay for a lot of books.” “There’s not enough money to bring in the new titles to the extent of what would be desired,” said Russell, who added that supplies are also needed. “Right now, there are books sitting on the shelf that can’t be put out because we don’t have all the supplies needed.” Jeff Greenberg, vice president of Friends of the Lincoln Library, said he “doesn’t know much about the background of the gentleman.” “Anything done that concerns the library, hopefully it will help in our quest to get more hours, services and grants,” Greenberg said. “When the economy starts to recover , I know the city will be behind the library.” “We do look forward to meeting the new director and hearing his ideas for moving the library forward,” said Lora Finnegan, a Friends of the Lincoln Library member.