Harry Willems is both the director of the Great Bend Public Library, and the director of the Central Kansas Library System. His duties are a 76/24 split between CKLS and GBPL respectively.
Willems will retire Dec. 31. Recruiting efforts began this month to find a new director to take over Jan. 1, 2018.
Thanks to the recent passage of HB 2102, which went into effect July 1, the governor will no longer be called on to appoint members to the state’s seven library systems boards. That job will now fall to county commissioners around the state.
The Central Kansas Library System, of which Great Bend is part, is currently in need of new appointees from each of the 16 counties it serves.
For the past few weeks, CKLS Director Harry Willems, also director of the Great Bend Public Library, has been visiting with county clerks of the 16 counties the CKLS serves.
He shared this information with trustees of the Great Bend Public Library at the July meeting last Monday.
Appointments from the governor haven’t been made in as timely and consistent a manner as possible, Willems explained. So at the current time, the board is looking for new appointees in each county.
“Since I’ve been with the library system, we’ve not had more than five out of 16 governor’s appointees at any one time,” he said. “Officially, we are currently down to three, but their terms have actually expired, and the governor has not sent a letter to tell them anything about it. Basically, we’re trying to fill all 16 positions.”
GBPL trustees were asked to consider nominating a county appointee, whose name would be suggested to the Barton County Commissioners for consideration. Willems explained that an application for the nominee would be available through the Barton County Clerk, Donna Zimmerman. If more than one nominee is submitted, the commissioners would need to choose, Willems said. Appointees will be certified by the state librarian.
Trustees of the various library boards will continue to be appointed by representatives of the cities where they are located. In Great Bend, that job falls to the mayor.
Library systems in Kansas were established in the mid-1960s when law was penned making provision for a process of continuous improvement of the existing library services, and for extending services to areas where services were not available.
In Kansas, there are seven systems, and each is governed by a system board. The board consists of one representative from each member library, plus one county appointee from each county levying the system tax. Members are duty-bound to attend one meeting each year where they adopt an annual budget. They can attend other meetings of the board also. If they want to be more involved, there is the executive board they can run for, and those members meet once a month.
There are currently 11 members on the CKLS Executive Committee which meet once a month. They are: Sharon Segerhammar, chairman, Courtland; Jessica McGuire, vice chairman, Russell; Rita Birzer-Feist, secretary, Ellinwood; Rose Kelly, treasurer, Great Bend; Judy Flax, Hays; Jane Galliart, Wilson; Joseph Johnston, Cawker City; Leslie Brooks, Ellsworth; Dana Randel, Osborne; Jim Agee, Hays; and Sheri Holmes, Ellinwood.
In addition to Barton County, other counties served by CKLS are: Pawnee, Rush, Ellis, Rooks, Phillips, Smith, Jewell, Osborne, Saline, Ottawa, Cloud, Republic, Russell, Mitchell, Lincoln, and Ellsworth.