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Library director announces retirement after 40-year career in library administration

Library Director Pam Kiesner
Library Director Pam Kiesner, photo by Paul Leeson

Library Director Pam Kiesner announced today she will retire from her position as head of the Bellingham Public Library at the end of 2016.

The Bellingham Public Library Board of Trustees accepted her resignation at its regular meeting on September 20, 2016.

Board of Trustees Chair J. Gordon said Kiesner has been “a true joy to work with” and referred to her as a strong leader, a creative manager and a “consummate professional.”

“A few things truly stand out when I reflect on Pam’s tenure,” he said. “She absolutely loves her job, loves her library, and loves her staff – it is infectious. Pam’s skill, strength, character and passion is totally reflected in BPL’s management team. Her guidance and influence have made serving on the Library Board of Trustees the most enjoyable ‘extracurricular’ experience of my career.”

Gordon said the Trustees will begin the process to select a new director immediately.  In her announcements, Kiesner notes that this year marks her 40th year in library administration, including the last 12 at the Bellingham Public Library, after serving 28 years in leadership positions with the Brown County Library in Green Bay, WI.

Kiesner’s long list of accomplishments, which she noted were team efforts, includes: establishing the Barkley Branch Library; completing repairs and renovations to the historic Fairhaven Branch Library; serving as a Whatcom READS founding member; forging partnerships with higher education and other community organizations; expanding early literacy and other children’s initiatives; implementing library self-service options and other contemporary library services, and building a competent, customer-focused management team and staff.

“It has been my great pleasure to serve you as director,” she said in her announcement to staff. “Each day I have been surprised and amazed by what we, together, have accomplished for this community. Each day, I have been grateful for your dedication and professionalism, serving everyone who walked through our doors,” she said.

Kiesner also led the Bellingham Public Library through a devastating recession with multiple staff layoffs, service cutbacks and other deep budget reductions, and has worked ever since to restore staffing and services for the public — a task that she says is not yet complete.

“We have had very good years and some challenging years,” she said. “Through it all, you have supported one another, found solutions, and worked hard despite some big obstacles.”

Kiesner said she expects to remain involved in community activities, including continuing to serve on the Bellingham YMCA Board of Directors. At the top of Kiesner’s to-do list in retirement, however, is enjoying her role as a grandparent.

“I love my job, and am IN love with this library – yet, it is a good time for me to step aside for many reasons.  Besides reaching this 40-year milestone, we are looking forward to a new grandson early in 2017, and I plan to be an active grandma!”