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KRL finds its new director close to home

With the retirement of director Ellen Newberg this spring, the Kitsap County Regional Library system launched a nationwide search for the best candidate to take the organization to the next level.

As it turned out, the top choice of the 22 candidates was someone who lives in Kitsap County and has firsthand knowledge of the library system as a patron.

Jill Jean, a Bainbridge Island resident who has commuted across the Sound to her job as director of public services at The Seattle Public Library for 14 years, is scheduled to take the helm at KRL on Sept. 19.

“We got one of the best and most talented people in the country,” said KRL spokeswoman Audrey Newell. “She has a passion and a complete understanding of libraries. She has the ability to visualize the library’s future, and can get her vision across to other people.”

Newell said Jean met with 40 staff members in one meeting, answering their questions “thoroughly, completely and respectfully.”

The five-member volunteer Board of Trustees selected Jean after a lengthy interview process that included an open library staff forum, a community leader and library supporters’ reception and personal interviews.

In her current position, Jean supervises 368 people and manages a budget of $24 million. KRL has 170 employees and a $9 million budget.

Jean is a native of Michigan where she received her Masters of Library Science from Western Michigan University and started her work in public libraries. Throughout her 30-year career in public libraries, Jean has served on a wide variety of community-based boards that focused on issues of literacy, youth involvement and children’s theater.

Currently, she is a member of the Downtown (Seattle) YMCA’s board of directors, chairing the Teen and Young Adult Committee.

“This is a huge coup,” Newell said. “I can‘t say enough how thrilled we are to get a person of this caliber.”

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