LEE — The Lee Library has a new director whose "very good understanding" with its patrons and ideas bode well for the institution, according to the president of its board of directors.
Damon Vorce, 35, from the village of Housatonic in Great Barrington, succeeds Dan Paquette, 36, who returned to the Westfield Athenaeum as its new day-to-day boss in September.
The Board of Selectmen recently confirmed Vorce's nomination by a five-person search committee who considered 10 applicants for the position.
The native of northern New York officially takes the reins on Feb. 8 at a starting salary of nearly $43,000, according to library officials.
Since April, Vorce has been Lee's part-time, young adult librarian, while holding down the full-time reference librarian at the Troy library in New York.
Vorce not only has extensive library experience, but made a good first impression with Lee's youth that helped him land the job, according to Mary Philpott, president of the Lee Library Association's board of directors.
"He had a very good understanding with the patrons — especially the teens — and he's a low key guy," Philpott said. "He will continue to bring ideas to the library, just as Dan did."
The husband and father of two young boys sees the opportunity as an extension of why he moved to Housatonic 18 months ago and started working in Lee.
"I wanted my roots settled raising a family and I wanted to work with young adults," he said.
Vorce grew up in Cape Vincent, N.Y., on the St. Lawrence Seaway across from Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
"Growing up in a small community, I can appreciate what Lee has here," he said.
Vorce earned his master's in information service from the University at Albany and holds a Public Librarian's Professional Certificate. He brings to Lee more than 10 years of experience working in public libraries in various capacities in Brooklyn and most recently in Troy, N.Y., as that city's reference librarian.
Vorce says the few months he had under Paquette as Lee's young adult librarian should make for a nearly seamless transition.
"Working with Dan allowed be to get comfortable with the staff right away because they trusted Dan," he said.
Under Paquette's direction, Lee Library's circulation of all materials doubled, from 30,000 to 60,000 annually, during his four-plus years in Lee. He and Philpott said that happened because more of the library's collection was made accessible to patrons, an adults section was revamped, and a new teen space was created at the Main Street facility.
Vorce hopes to keep the teen library section going with the help of students and adult volunteers and to continue promoting a multitude of community-based activities.
"Lee does a great job utilizing everything" at the library, Vorce said. "When there is an opening for an art exhibit, the gallery is packed."
For years, the Lee Library has been a haven for established and budding artists thanks to monthly exhibits and special events in the art gallery.
The Lee Library Association is currently seeking photos to include in its February/March exhibit "Lee Loves a Parade." The community photos of any past Lee parades will be added to those photos from the Lee Library Historical Collection.
Drop photos off to the library by Jan. 30 and include your name and the names of the people in the pictures. The photos will be returned at the end of March. Any questions, call Mary Philpott at 243-2733 or email email@example.com.