Rachael Fox will be the Hood River County Library District’s new director.
Fox, who has been with the library for 14 years, succeeds Buzzy Nielsen, who is leaving after five years to lead the Crook County library system. The Board of Directors announced the hiring of Fox, now the HRCLD assistant director, on Monday.
Fox impressed the board with her strong communication, leadership, and community outreach skills as well as her long-time commitment to the library and the Hood River County community, according to Board President Suzanne VanOrman. Fox will be the second director the library district has had in its five-year tenure.
“It’s exciting. I feel really honored and grateful to be chosen for this position,” Fox said Tuesday.
She said the board looked to her leadership and communication abilities, along with her dedication to the community, as deciding factors.
“I am very passionate about this library and this community, and serving it,” Fox said.
Her primary goal will be to focus on the branches including the Parkdale renovation, moving the Cascade Locks branch from City Hall to the school, and increasing the library’s presence in Odell.
Fox will begin her new position on Aug. 1, following Nielsen’s final day on July 31.
“Buzzy has always believed in cross training, and he has really worked with me in the last couple years so that I am familiar with the responsibilities,” Fox said.
Both the board and Fox anticipate that she will become an even more common presence within the community as she becomes the new face of the library district. Plans are already moving forward in recruiting a new assistant director, a position expected to be filled externally. Fox said a national search should lead to an appointment by this fall.
Fox began working in libraries when she was hired as a library assistant in 2002 at the county-run Hood River County Library, a position she held until the library’s closure in 2010. While working there, Fox studied for and received her Master of Library Science from Emporia State University’s School of Library and Information Management.
During the library’s year of closure, Fox was actively involved in the successful campaign to create a library district, canvassing door-to-door and assisting the campaign with information about library operations. Fox was one of the first employees of the newly-created Hood River County Library District when she was hired as its first cataloging specialist in 2011. She later became the district’s first assistant director, a position she’s held since 2013. As assistant director, Fox plans adult programming, manages desk staff and scheduling, and conducts outreach to senior living facilities.
The library director position opened proceeding Nielsen’s announcement in May that he would be resigning. Following a national search, the library district received and reviewed 19 applications. After interviewing an initial five candidates, the hiring committee narrowed the field down to three: Fox, Diane Adams, director of the International Falls Public Library in Minnesota, and Emily Klonicki, director of the Ella Johnson Memorial Public Library District in Hampshire, Ill.
The finalists participated in a rigorous evaluation process on July 9, which included interviews, meetings with staff, a written assignment, and a presentation and meet and greet with the public. In reviewing the candidates, the HRCLD Board of Directors strongly considered the views of the public and staff. Final approval of Fox’s selection will be at the board of directors meeting on July 19.
The library district has several large projects for the future, including moving the Cascade Locks branch, renovating the Parkdale branch, preserving the historic Hood River branch, and carrying out a new five-year strategic plan that emphasizes community outreach.