Lenox taps head of Stockbridge library as its new library director

Katherine 'Katie' O'Neil, shown in 2016, has taken the post of director of the Lenox Library. O'Neil has served as director of the Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives since 2011.

LENOX — The town didn't have to look far afield for its new library director.

Katherine "Katie" O'Neil, the director of the Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives since 2011, has been appointed to the top job at the town-owned Lenox Library. Lee/Lenox Chief Administrative Officer Christopher Ketchen made the announcement at Wednesday's Select Board meeting.

"We found the answer to our library's future right in our own backyard," he said. He announced O'Neil's arrival "with great pleasure" and gained unanimous ratification by the Select Board, as required within seven days of the appointment.

O'Neil succeeds Amy Lafave, appointed as director four years ago. Last month, Lafave, a specialist on local history, applied for and was named to the newly created position of local history librarian.

A Lee native, O'Neil graduated from Lenox Memorial Middle and High School in 1997.

"Ms. O'Neil, welcome home," Ketchen greeted her.

The move leaves Stockbridge with an opening for a library director. Lee Library also is seeking a director.

Ketchen noted that the town recruited statewide for several weeks in search of a new library director after Lafave accepted her new post, which was funded by town meeting voters last May.The position pays $71,075, Ketchen said.

"I'm honored and delighted to be joining the Lenox Library and working with Amy, who's just a wonderful librarian and resource for the town," O'Neil said. "That she's taking the historian position and that I'll be able to contribute is a perfect match, so I'm very much looking forward to getting started."

O'Neil, who lives in Richmond with her family, will take up her new post on Dec. 2.

During her seven years at the Stockbridge Library, she presided over a $4 million capital campaign to support a major renovation and expansion of the library, working closely with the board of trustees.

O'Neil, 40, earned a master's degree in library science from UCLA in 2007. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in English and American Literature & Language with a citation in Spanish. O'Neil has been a librarian in Los Angeles and then in Westfield after returning to Massachusetts in 2010 to pursue her career.

Selectwoman Marybeth Mitts, who worked closely with Ketchen on the search, commented that "we're overjoyed that we were able to conduct this statewide search, and we had such great applicants from within the state and, happily, someone from our own backyard."

Familiarity with Berkshire County was listed in the job description, she noted."We're so happy to have such an able applicant," Mitts said. "She's a fantastic individual with a really rich, robust background. It's fantastic that we're adding her to our roster of town employees."

Selectman David Roche, who's also a Lenox Library trustee, noted that in conversations with O'Neil and Ketchen, "we talked about taking our library into the 21st century. We seem to share the same vision; we have a very strong youth program and we look forward to developing our other programs as well."

"We're very, very lucky as a town to have such great talent nearby, and talent that's interested in coming to Lenox," said Selectman Neal Maxymillian.

"We're looking forward to working with you and helping you in any way we can," Select Board Chairman Edward Lane added.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.