New Hoag director will make customer service top priority

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 February 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Betty Sue Miller, interim director at Hoag Library, wants to boost programming for adults and computer training for employees.

ALBION – The new director of Hoag Library is a familiar face in the Albion community. Betty Sue Miller grew up in Albion, taught in the district and later was a library director for Holley Central School.

She will serve at Hoag for about a year in an interim capacity. The library Board of Trustees will begin another search process for a permanent director, but wants some time before starting that process.

Miller started about three weeks ago and has been working with staff to develop programs for the future, while tending to other needs in the building. That includes providing more guidance to teen-agers and making sure they are respectful in the building, Miller told the Board of Trustees on Wednesday during the monthly board meeting.

“We’ve re-established rules,” she said about the teens.

She has cleared off some of the displays at the front counter and slid them over by a bookcase of new books. That has made staff more visible to patrons, improving those connections with the public.

Miller also has been a visible presence in the building, talking with staff and community members, said Board President Kevin Doherty.

Library staff are developing the summer reading program which will be split into reading groups for children, tweens, teens and adults. The tween group will be new. Miller and the staff wanted that age group to have its own focus.

She will push for more computer training for staff, and also wants to order more new books and other materials for patrons.

Expanding programs for adults also will be a focus. Miller said some programs could include sessions on knitting and crocheting. She is open to ideas from the community on other topics for adult programs.

Doherty said the library board and Miller had a retreat on Jan. 31 with a facilitator from the Nioga Library System. The group identified four goals: a collection development strategy that meets the needs of the community, “relentness” pursuit for improved customer service, recommendation from director on best use of staff and how to perhaps use employees to develop new programs, and more adult programming.

The library has had a turbulent past year following the termination of director Susan Rudnicky, Terry Wilbert serving in an interim role, and then Jeff Davignon leading the library for about five months.

The library parted ways with Davignon last month after many community and staff members complained about his management style. Several long-time employees either quit, retired or were fired under Davignon.

Gerard Morrissey, a library patron, addressed the board last night. He said the board should consider it a fresh start with Miller on board.

“This is a new start for everyone,” Morrissey said. “It doesn’t matter who started it or who’s right or wrong. Let’s have a new beginning. The old stuff is wiped away.”

Miller’s husband Fred is an Orleans County legislator. He is also the long-time owner of Family Hardware in downtown Albion.

The library has long been a customer of the store. Doherty said that will likely continue. The library will compare prices between Family Hardware and Ace Hardware and go with the lowest price when it needs hardware supplies. Mrs. Miller said she would have someone else sign off on any purchases from Family Hardware.