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Montague gets new library director

MONTAGUE — Pending successful contract negotiations, the new director of the Montague Public Libraries will be David Payne of Philadelphia.

The Board of Library Trustees voted unanimously to offer the job to Payne at a starting salary of $56,014 following consideration of three finalists.

Longtime director Susan SanSoucie retires Oct. 31.

Board Chairwoman Karen Latka said Wednesday Payne had accepted, pending discussion of the details.

Payne, 50, has managed the Tacony branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia for the past 10 years.

The branch is one of 54 in the system, and Payne said he is leaving because the system is facing changes that include the transformation of his position into a non-librarian role and render his job uncertain.

Payne said he likes what he does as branch manager, from interaction with the public to personnel management and wishes to keep doing what he does.

“I really thrive on all of it,” Payne said.

All of it is what the Montague director does.

SanSoucie manages a staff of eight full- and part-time employees, prepares the budget, buys all adult books — the children’s librarian is responsible for children’s books — and can frequently be found behind the front desk of the Carnegie Library in Turners Falls.

The Tacony branch and the Montague Public Libraries are of comparable size; last year’s circulation numbered 130,000 for a branch with 40,000 books, Payne said, while SanSoucie counts 51,000 items spread among three libraries with a combined circulation of 115,338 last year.

Payne, who grew up in England, said he has wanted to be a librarian since an early age, ever since he gave up his original dream of working as an archivist because he lacks the requisite proficiency in Latin.

Today, Payne believes libraries are as important as they have ever been, or more so.

“People who write off public libraries are greatly mistaken. I think they’re more needed than ever before, and in many ways more in demand,” he said.

Libraries now offer computer and Internet access necessary in modern life while continuing to offer educational material for adults looking to further their education, and things like story hours for small children remain popular and as necessary as ever, he said.

“Even though our work has changed somewhat as society changes around us, the need for basic literacy at an early age doesn’t change,” Payne said.

Payne said he has visited the Montague libraries, looks forward to working in the community and has no immediate plans for change, beyond working toward greater accessibility.

“I really stick to the old adage ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” he said.

At Tuesday’s trustees meeting to fill the job, consideration centered overwhelmingly on Payne and an internal candidate, children’s librarian Linda Hickman.

A subcommittee ultimately voted to recommend Payne to the full board, which ratified the decision.

If all goes according to plan, Payne will begin work Oct. 21 for a 10-day overlap with SanSoucie.

Latka said a public farewell is planned for SanSoucie Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Carnegie Library, 201 Avenue A.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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