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Ridgefield Library Begins Next Chapter With Hire Of New Director

Brenda J. McKinley Brenda McKinley
Brenda J. McKinley Brenda McKinley Photo Credit: Contributed

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — After an exhaustive eight-month nationwide search, the Ridgefield Library found its new director in neighboring Newtown.

The Ridgefield Library Association Board voted unanimously to name Brenda J. McKinley as the new director of the library at its regular meeting Oct. 17. The announcement was made Friday.

McKinley is currently director at the Cyrenius H. Booth Library in Newtown, which she joined in 1995 to carry out a series of other responsibilities involving reference, systems, technology and circulation.

She will replace Chris Nolan, who announced her retirement in February and who will step down Dec. 31 after 16 years of service.

“After a nationwide search, it turns out the best candidate was right in our own backyard!" Chairman Dean Miller said, speaking for the board. "We are very excited to have Brenda join us to lead our library and help develop its strategic plan and vision for the future.

"Her experience and leadership in Newtown, her passion and love for libraries, and her ability to create connections in the community make her the ideal candidate to build on the wonderful work Chris Nolan has done.”

Until the mid-1990s, McKinley was employed in various library specialties in New Fairfield, Great Barrington, Mass., and at the Yale University School of Medicine.

McKinley is an honors biology master's and bachelor's graduate of the University of Connecticut in Storrs and earned a master's in library science at Southern Connecticut State University.

A seven-person search committee consisting of board and at-large members of the community spent over eight months surveying Ridgefield attitudes and needs about the library, coordinating its national outreach with a library recruitment firm, and winnowing 46 applicants to one.

Starting Jan. 2, McKinley will be directing a staff of 42 full- and part-time paid staff who "ensure that the Ridgefield Library is a vibrant intellectual and cultural gathering place, adapting to the changing needs of the community in an evolving world, and committed to delivering diverse and relevant programming," the board said in a statement.

The library uses a range of emerging and tested technologies and provides ready access to on-site and virtual collections. About 270,000 people a year cross the threshold of the 3-year-old facility, while another 160,000 website visits lead patrons to the traditional media collections, online media, program reservations and other library tools.

The Ridgefield Library annually partners with over 60 different community organizations for programs and services.

For more information on the Ridgefield Library, click here .

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