The Kanawha County Public Library system’s director is resigning after about a year in the position.
The board appointed Riti Grover to the position effective Sept. 11, 2018. She replaced Alan Engelbert, who retired after 11 years at the helm, and she was given a $130,000 annual salary, $20,000 more than Engelbert’s pay at the time he retired.
Board President Monika Jaensson said Grover submitted her resignation in writing Sept. 11 of this year, “for personal reasons and to pursue other opportunities.” Jaensson said Grover’s last day will be Dec. 13.
Jaensson said Grover didn’t provide further details regarding why she was resigning. Jaensson said board members didn’t ask her to resign.
Grover, who attended the board’s meeting Tuesday, didn’t provide details for her resignation beyond “personal reasons.” She said she made up her mind last week.
“It’s been an honor to work, grow, learn with my colleagues here,” she said.
Board member Jim Withrow said, “Most of us felt she was doing a pretty good job, a very good job.”
Jaennson said, “She’s had a remarkably productive year with the library implementing numerous new and successful initiatives within the system and contributing great insight into the design of New Main, and I will miss her smile and gracious words.”
The system is in the midst of pursuing a previously estimated $27 million renovation and expansion of the main library, in Charleston. Board members say they plan to temporarily relocate the main library while the work is ongoing.
“We have excellent staff,” Jaensson said. “Staff has been involved in the planning all along so we don’t have a gap in knowledge, and I think they’ll be able to execute the move and the other initiatives we have right now.”
Grover led the system as it added Kanopy, an online streaming service offering library cardholders free movies, documentaries and shows. The system also began allowing people to check out mobile Wi-Fi hotspot devices, which provide fast internet and let people connect to the internet in areas where they otherwise couldn’t.
Grover was director of the Ramsey Free Public Library, in New Jersey, at the time of her hiring here.
Board Vice President Ben Thomas, who also headed the search committee, previously said the board paid Vernon Hills, Illinois-based John Keister & Associates LLC about $20,000 to conduct the search.
Jennifer Pauer, chairwoman of the board’s personnel committee, said the firm had done over 300 searches for library directors.
“If the new Library Director leaves the position within the first year after acceptance, we will, on a one-time basis, reactivate the search upon your request,” said an Executive Search Proposal connected to the firm. “The library will assume all expenses directly related to a reactivated search, but we will expect no additional search fee.”
It wasn’t clear Tuesday whether the clause would be triggered. Marsha Alford, the library system’s human resources manager, said that, to her recollection, the clause made it into the final contract with the firm.
John Keister & Associates didn’t return requests for comment Tuesday.
Jaensson said the library system is exploring its options regarding searching for a new director.
Board members spent about an hour-and-a-half in closed session Tuesday. They claimed exemptions from open meetings laws to discuss personnel and other issues.
Thomas said after the meeting that “we’re evaluating next steps and hope to put a plan in place in the near term.”