Update: Bath library searching for new director, Goodwin named interim leader

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BATH — Patten Free Library Director Anne Phillips has resigned, effective Aug. 21.

The library announced on Friday that Peter Goodwin, manager of the facility’s Sagadahoc History and Genealogy Room, has been appointed interim director as of July 13.

The library board of trustees accepted Phillips’ resignation on June 18 and said a committee of library corporators, trustees and staff will search for a replacement.

Phillips has been the director since 2003. She began working at the library in 1979 as a volunteer.

The Woolwich resident said she has accepted a job as program director for a new non-profit outside of Maine.

“I’m very excited about it and a little anxious, because it’s turning my world upside down,” she said. “It is not a library; it’s a whole new thing.”

Phillips, who is in her mid-50s, was elected as a corporator in 1980, became library assistant the following year and was promoted to director in 1989.

“I feel like the library has a great foundation, is in a wonderful, secure, stable place, with great staff, certainly a supportive community, and all of those things,” Phillips said. “So I feel like I can move forward, (and) try something else.”

During her tenure she oversaw the transition of the library from card catalog to computer, and served on committees that constructed a gazebo to mark the library’s centennial in 1989, and another involved with publishing a 1936-1986 history of Bath. She supported the start of annual community reads, which earned the first Maine Library Excellence Award.

Phillips also experienced one of the library’s more tumultuous times, after she fired long-time children’s librarian Nyree Thomas in September 2007. The firing, which Phillips said stemmed from unsatisfactory performance by Thomas, split the library community at the time and culminated in a mediated agreement approved by the corporators in March 2008.

The agreement called for Thomas to be issued a statement of apology, and a compensation package that included six months of full salary and 18 months of health insurance coverage. She was also to receive a transition planning fund and a letter of recommendation from the library that stressed only the “positive elements” of her employment.

Other aspects of the agreement recommended by the mediation committee were revisions of the library’s personnel policies and the creation of a go-to person for employees with workplace concerns. The committee also called for Phillips to be provided with advanced personnel management training, that the documents reviewed by the committee be included in her file and that her priority performance goal for the 2008-2009 evaluation period be the restoration of superior personnel policies and practices to the library. The agreement stated that Phillips’ employment tenure would be reassessed if she failed to meet that goal.

Phillips said her proudest achievement during her tenure at the library was fundraising and being part of the building committee that designed the addition to the facility in 1998.

“I think I can take the skills that I have learned at the library into my new position, because I will be doing programming and fundraising,” she said.

“I just need to try something different for a couple years and see how it goes,” she added. “I’m young enough to do that … At some point in your life, you’re not willing to do it, so I feel like I’m brave and setting out in a whole new land with something new to try.”

Goodwin, the unanimous choice of interim library director by the search committee, has served as Sagadahoc History and Genealogy Room manager since 2002. His tenure has included two exhibits for the Maine Historical Society’s Maine Memory Network, as well as organization of the Town History Series, which now approaches its sixth season.

The search committee includes trustees Susan Beegel and David Miller, treasurer Julia De Bery, corporator Steve Singer, corporator liasion Art Mayo and staff member Teeter Bibber.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.