Michigan librarian booked as Westport Library director
Published 10:57 am, Tuesday, June 2, 2015
The top administrator of an award-winning Michigan library has been named the new executive director of the Westport Library.
William H. Harmer, the director of the Chelsea District Library in Michigan, was selected this week by the library Board of Trustees to succeed Maxine Bleiweis, who is retiring after 17 years of service in July.
Harmer will start work in Westport on July 27, the trustees announced Tuesday.
Harmer was one of two finalists for the post; the other was David Hinkley, the director of the Montclair, N.J., library. Both men met the public at a forum in the library last month.
In his presentation at that meeting, Harmer gave a slide presentation that centered on a recipe for innovation. "Westport has already identified itself as innovators," he said. "You have a whole team of chefs and cooks already in place, (and) it exists in the spirit of this community, not just the library.
"Our goal is to make sure that no one is left out of our kitchen," Harmer told the local audience. "We want to make sure everyone has a seat at our table," and that they "satisfy, delight and nourish the community."
In Chelsea, Mich., Harmer has been the library director since 2009.
During his tenure, the library was named the Best Small Library in America by the Library Journal and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Library Journal also named Harmer to the Class of 2009 Movers & Shakers, a list of "emerging leaders from around the world making a difference in the library field," according to a statement from the trustees. In 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation chose Harmer as one of 120 world library leaders to attend its global conference on the future of libraries held in Cape Town, South Africa.
"Bill Harmer possesses the intellectual, creative and entrepreneurial spirit that is at the heart of the library," Mike Guthman, the president of the Westport Library Board of Trustees, said in the statement. "He comes to us with the experience, talent and leadership skills to maintain the Westport Library at the forefront of innovation and to propel the library into its next phase of development and transformation."
"I am delighted to be joining the talented team of library professionals at the Westport Library; an organization that exemplifies what a world-class, 21st Century library can be," Harmer said in the statement. "I look forward to getting to know the staff and our patrons, developing collaborative relationships with organizations and leaders throughout the community and building on the exceptional work of my predecessor, Maxine Bleiweis."
Harmer began his library career in 2001 and has held leadership positions at libraries in Farmington and Birmingham, Mich. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in literature and creative writing from Eastern Michigan University, and a master's degree in library and information science from Wayne State University.
Harmer, his wife Jill and their three children plan to move to the area this summer.