Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Library

A welcoming event for the new director of the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library happens from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at 151 Polk St. in Bolivar, next to Harpers Ferry Middle School. For more information, call the library 304-535-2301 or email bhflib@martin.lib.wv.us

BOLIVAR – The Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library has a new director, and the library’s board is eager to connect her with the public.

Sara Curley is a New Jersey native who has worked as the academic services librarian at American Public University System and as the archivist at Hood College in Frederick, Md.

Curley, a graduate of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, began working at the Bolivar library on Jan. 2. This weekend, the library’s board of directors invites the public to a special event to meet Curley.

The get-together, with light refreshments, happens from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the library on 151 Polk St. in Bolivar.

Curley’s selection comes after a shakeup begun with the departure of Gretchen Fry, who’d served as director in Bolivar since 2012.

Fry was named to the top job with the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library in late 2016 after the chaotic, six-month tenure of Sheridan Montgomery.

In her time in Martinsburg, Montgomery created an uproar as she terminated employees, cut part-time staffing, tossed out thousands of items from the library system’s collection and made other unpopular policy changes. Hundreds of people signed a petition demanding her exit.

Fry – who’d been a finalist in Martinsburg before Montgomery’s hiring – was replaced in Bolivar by Toni Milbourne, formerly the editor of the weekly Shepherdstown Chronicle and the Spirit of Jefferson.

Though she had served on the library’s board of directors, Milbourne was new to much of the work as director, she admitted to writer Edward Smith when he wrote a story for the Spirit in 2017.

Milbourne told him she’s also grateful to the library’s staff for being so helpful while she learned the ropes. Smith included this quote from Milbourne: Library staff members “even teach me things that I didn’t even know that I don’t know.”

As library director, Milbourne also continued to write for area news publications.

According to minutes from a May 2018 review of her work by the library board of directors – information available to the public because Milbourne requested an open session – the library board suggested areas for improvement from Milbourne including her being “physically in the library during business hours of 9 a.m. through 5:30 p.m.”

It was also suggested that Milbourne spend a week shadowing Hali Taylor, the director of the Shepherdstown Library, that she exhibit “professional behavior” and deliver a “better relationship with employees and patrons.”

By August, the library was running a job listing seeking a new director.

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