Thirty-year-old Mark Kille, director of Lilly Library in Florence since 1999, has taken a position as director of a church library in West Hartford, Conn.
He begins his new job at the First Church of Christs 10,000 volume library on June 9. His last day at Lilly library will be June 6.
It was a very hard decision to make, he said in an interview with downstreet.net. I really love being here, its a great library, and a great community. I have difficulty imagining working at another public library.
Speaking of Killes departure, Virginia Christenson, secretary to the board of trustees, said: Its sad for the library, but we are very happy for him.
She recalled when Kille joined the library we would not believe our good fortune that he was there to take over when the late director, Joyce Neal, became ill. Killes strong educational background and his sense of Lillys role in the community were a perfect match for Lillys needs at the time, she said.
The library is currently reviewing the applications of about 20 candidates for the directors position.
Killes departure comes at time when Lilly Library, founded by Alfred Lilly in 1888, is in the midst of a major capital fund-raising campaign to provide money for a proposed renovation and expansion of its existing building on Meadow Street, at an estimated cost of $2.35 million.
According to Kille, who is the librarys only full-time employee, this is not a bad time for a change of director. He said all of the schematic designs, and planning for the construction project have been completed, with the next step being the selection of an architect, and the actual construction.
The challenge now is to continue to secure the necessary local funds, of which about $350,000 toward a goal of $500,000 has been reached. Meanwhile, the Lilly Library is on the waiting list for some $1.1 million in state funds which might be available by July, 2006, he said.
But the nine-member board of trustees can proceed with actual construction by borrowing funds in anticipation of the state money.
Of the renovation and 6,000 square foot expansion, Kille said: It really really needs to be done now. We cant wait. We want to do it now while the cost estimate is accurate.
Thus, the best case scenario is for ground to be broken and work beginning in late summer or fall of 2004, Kille said.
Kille began working at the library in the summer of 1998, and became assistant director and then acting director in July, 1999 because of the illness of director Neal.
He then became permanent director upon the death of Neal, who he credits with bringing about many changes, especially the automation of the library, the addition of more computers, more books, organizing more programs and creating a Friends of the Library organization. The Friends, he said, are doing so much for the library.
With a nod to his predecessor, Kille says: A lot of what Im doing is building on what Joyce Neal was already doing.
Kille grew up in Chapel Hill, N.C., graduated from Harvard College and worked at two short-term library positions--one in Boston and another at a school in the Netherlands before getting his masters degree in library science from the University of Pittsburgh, and joining the staff at Lilly. He and his wife have resided in South Hadley.
Of his new job, Kille says that the West Hartford church has perhaps the best church library in New England, the result of a bequest that was made some 25 years ago.
The collection consists of books, videos and periodicals focusing on Protestantism, which is available as a resource for members of the Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Ironically, the library is named the John Webster Library, a one-time minister of the church, who was a long-time resident of Williamsburg and now resides in South Hadley and is a member of the First Congregational Church there where Kille and his family worship. He said John Webster was pleased when he learned that Kille was a candidate for the directorship of the library named for him.
Kille says it is unclear what turns his career will take in the future. I am a librarian through and through; Im also religious. I like to combine the two."
For now, he emphasizes his appreciation for the experience he had at Lilly. It is a really good place to work. I can accomplish things in a library of this size that would be very hard to do elsewhere.
He breaks the Lilly librarys role into three areas--as reading room for the latest books, magazines and newspapers, as a pleasant space for children and their parents, and as a community center where people can come on a regular basis to stay in touch with the flow of the community.
He sees Lilly as a complementary library, not as a rival of Forbes Library. Because of Forbes, he said were freed of keeping up a good reference collection which takes a lot of employees and a lot of money. That money, he said, can go instead into buying extra copies of best sellers. Because were a small library we try to get books quickly and get them on the shelf quickly. Its easier for us, because were smaller.
Lillys annual budget is about $200,000 with the city providing some $170,000 of that amount.
On the verge of heading out the door on his way to a new job, Kille pauses and says of the people he has been associated with: Its been a wonderful place. My job has been to not get in the way of their good work.