By Lynne Hendricks
AMESBURY — Circumventing what might have become another lengthy search process to find a new library director, Mayor Thatcher Kezer has taken the advice of a unanimous Board of Trustees vote and appointed former assistant director Patty DiTullio to the post.
Given the fact that DiTullio came aboard as interim director three years ago during the last search, and that in her role as assistant she has initiated programs that increased foot and Internet traffic to the library and modernized access, trustees enthusiastically endorsed her as their candidate for the job. Kezer offered the appointment, and DiTullio accepted the position effective immediately.
She replaces Katie McDonough, who resigned after a few months on the job.
Kezer credited DiTullio with improvements to library service, including modernizing processes, increasing access to technology and the Internet, growing adult programming, restarting programs such as home-bound book deliveries, and improving the Web site.
DiTullio said yesterday she's eager to start work on some of the pressing issues facing the library.
"I'm very excited," DiTullio said. "I came on board as interim director while they were having the director search (in 2007). I came to help out during that period but declined to apply for the position, because my child was a little bit younger. This time around, I just felt like I was in a better place to do it, and I felt it was the best thing for the library to not go through another transition."
DiTullio, who resides in Salisbury, came to Amesbury following a position as director at the Kensington, N.H., Public Library. Before that she served as both assistant director and acting director of Tewksbury's Public Library and served stints at numerous metropolitan libraries, such as Boston Public Library, prior to that. She has a graduate degree in library science from Simmons College in Boston.
"Public library service is very unique, as compared to other areas in the library profession," said DiTullio, who describes libraries as being centers providing all things to all people. "I like that we are in a unique position to serve really every member of the community," she said. "I really like the challenge of being all things to all people, which I think libraries are really good at."
With looming issues surrounding the age and condition of the building, which most recently became evident when a dangerous outbreak of mold closed the library for a time and prompted several employees to seek medical treatment, DiTullio said she and staff members will be rolling up their shirtsleeves right away to tackle building problems.
"We do have many issues with the facility that we need to address," she said. "Some of those will be interim solutions, but we do need to look ahead to figure out what we're going to do long term about the facility whether it means renovating this building or looking to relocate elsewhere."
Kezer's Chief of Staff Kendra Amaral cited DiTullio's ability to kindle newfound interest in adult programs at the library, by resurrecting the home-bound book delivery system for the town's elders, putting Amesbury Public Library on Facebook,and bringing in public speakers like Hank Phillipi Ryan of Help-me-Hank fame to spearhead a mystery-writer seminar.
"They're now doing language courses that you can do online, from the comfort of your home with just a library card," Amaral said. "They've just added an online library pass reservation process. That's one of the reasons why the circulation and the attendance at the library has been increasing so much. They've been hitting records."