Gillian Murphy, the former director of Elting Memorial Library, has left her position to become the director of Howland Public Library in Beacon.
The Elting Memorial Library Board of Trustees announced her departure on Nov. 22. In their announcement, they expressed their gratitude for Murphy’s many accomplishments during her two-and-a-half year tenure.
“At a crucial time, she helped guide us out of the pandemic and creatively rethought how Elting could best serve our community,” the board stated on the Elting Memorial Library Facebook page. “Her accomplishments are many: more strategic use of the Library’s building, increased space for patrons to work, read and gather; expanded programming for adults, youth and children; a larger, dedicated space for teens; the establishment of our passport center, a reimagined children’s room and more refined and responsive collection, including innovations such as our Library of Things.”
Murphy began her position as Elting’s director in April 2021 and left at the end of November 2023. She replaced the former director, John Giralico, who retired from Elting after 47 years as director. In Elting, Murphy saw a great opportunity to create space for people and connection, both in the community and the staff.
“I accomplished a lot of what I wanted to do at Elting,” Murphy told The Oracle. “I was probably their transition person, after following someone that was there for 47 years, it’s usually quite common that somebody comes in and shakes things up and then leaves.”
Her job at Howland will be her third job as the director of a library within the Mid-Hudson Library System, which serves 66 libraries within Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Putnam and Ulster counties. As she moves on to Howland Public Library, she’s excited to settle into her new position and make updates to Beacon’s library, even looking into building a new location with the help of bonds and grants. She doesn’t doubt that Elting will continue making positive changes after her departure and implementing programs she led during her time there.
“I was the leader, but the staff that’s there is amazing and they’ll just keep doing it as long as they have another strong leader that’s willing to support them and say yes to their wonderful ideas,” Murphy said.
The library board plans to reach out to the Mid-Hudson Library System and surrounding library systems for a permanent director in 2024. A search committee comprised of staff, board and community members will lead this charge, finding a broad range of candidates from all over the state. The job requires candidates to have a Masters degree in Library Science and be licensed by New York State, but most importantly, the candidate needs to benefit the community.
“We’ll be looking for someone who will make sure that our library is relevant and responding to what types of materials and services our community needs,” Elting Library board president Richard Heyl de Ortiz told Hudson Valley One. Later on in the search process, community members will have the opportunity to talk with candidates and give feedback to the search committee.
In the meantime, Stephen Cook, the former director of Starr Library in Rhinebeck, has come out of retirement to serve as Elting’s interim director. Being a volunteer at Elting for the last year and the former director of a library within the Mid-Hudson Library System, Cook’s skills and familiarity with the staff and community has made for an easy transition.
“I’m very lucky that my skills line up with the need that the organization has,” Cook said.