Time to book

North Adams Library director to retire next year

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NORTH ADAMS — After nearly five years at the helm of the North Adams Public Library, director Mindy Hackner is retiring.

The longtime librarian has informed Mayor Thomas Bernard and the library's board of trustees that she plans to retire in 2019.

"This is a remarkable community and I have really, really enjoyed my time here. I've made a lot of friends," Hackner told The Eagle on Thursday. "I'm just astounded at what a close-knit, family-oriented community this is. I'm going to miss it."

Bernard will appoint Hackner's replacement, and plans to form a search committee largely consisting of library trustees, that will review candidates for Hackner's replacement.

"I think she means a tremendous amount to the city and the library — she's been a good leader in her time there," Bernard said. "She is a strong advocate for the library, for her staff, for the trustees and for the needs of the building."

Hackner joined the North Adams Public Library in 2014, after a short period as director of the Dalton Free Library, before which she spent 18 years at the Milne Public Library in Williamstown.

Retirement offers Hackner the opportunity to spend more time with her husband, who has been retired for nearly a decade, and her grandchildren.

"It seemed like a good time," Hackner said. "The library here seems very stable. Everything is happy, the staff is good, the building is good. I felt it was time."

Library Trustee Donald Pecor credited Hackner with expanding the number of programs and services the library offers, as well as navigating the politics of the public position.

"We're going to miss her; she brought to the position a wide variety of skills and a really deep love for the library," Pecor said. "She really was a pleasure to work with."

Trustee Richard Taskin echoed that praise.

"I think she was a very effective advocate for the library and I wish she'd stay," Taskin said.

Hackner has worked at libraries through a period of rapid evolution.

"The biggest thing that's happened in my time in libraries is, of course, the advent of the internet. I tell people here that when I started, we were still using dot matrix printers and little index cards and fixing things by hand," Hackner said.

Advancements in technology have become more frequent, Hackner noted.

"It changes all the time, and frankly I'm having a hard time keeping my technical skills up to snuff," she said.

Though technology marches on, Hackner said libraries will never be obsolete.

While physical attendance at the library has decreased, the number of people using digital services like OverDrive for eBooks and Acorn TV has risen.

"We're starting to look at different metrics for how the library is used," Hackner said.

The library's next director will face challenges that include maintaining the budget, managing the staffing and keeping an eye on the 19th-century building.

The opening for the director position has been posted and will start at a salary of $46,759.

Hackner's last day is expected to be in early June.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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