Canby Public Library Director Penny Hummel’s last day will be Monday, Oct. 7.

by: CANBY HERALD PHOTO - Penny HummelHummel resigned the post she has held four years in a Sept. 23 letter to Mayor Brian Hodson and the Canby City Council.

The city recruited Hummel to revitalize the library and help plan a new library. A plan to build a library on Second Avenue was deemed by the project team as the best and least expensive option.

The Second Avenue project was approved August 2012 and then killed by a council majority in July 2013.

Hummel held little hope that the city’s elected officials would allocate additional funds for a new library.

“I’m concerned that they will move instead in the direction of building a substandard library with the limited funds that are now left over from the Second Avenue project,” she said.

“Ultimately, it is time for me to shift my focus from the Canby library to other arenas where I can make a positive impact.”

During Hummel’s tenure, the library improved its collection, added story time, author talk and musical programs and increased usage significantly.

She was proud of the Second Avenue project put together by city staff, community members and the project team.

“We developed a plan for an outstanding new library on Second Avenue that would have not only served the community’s educational and informational needs, but would also have been an catalyst for downtown redevelopment,” she said.

“As of this summer, we also were well on our way to achieving our $1 million fundraising goal and were on schedule and on budget to open the new library by the end of next year.”

As to her own future, Hummel last month began a year term as president of the Oregon Library Association.

“Once I leave Canby, I’ll be working as a library consultant, sharing my expertise in organizational development, fundraising and marketing with a variety of clients,” Hummel said. “I look forward to applying what I’ve learned in Canby to assist other libraries in becoming the very best they can be.”

The passage of the Clackamas County Library District in 2008, provides the Canby library more than $700,000 a year, she said.

“This year, that $700,000 is “matched” with $70,000 from the city’s General Fund,” she said, “a small investment that pays big dividends when considered in light of the thousands of people of all ages who use the library each year.”

She hoped that in the future Canby’s elected officials will appreciate the value of that investment. The Canby Public Library provides vital services to the community alongside other city departments such as public works and police.

“Without such city support, the library’s hours will be cut and services will be reduced,”?she said.

Hummel would be missed, said Canby Mayor Brian Hodson.

“She has done a tremendous job for our library with programming, increasing circulation. She’s been a real leader in the city. It will be a challenge to fill her position,” he said.

“She is a leader and she will be successful wherever she ends up,” Hodson said. “That is why we will miss her leadership in the city.”

He said the city will post the library director job in the next couple of weeks.

“Penny was recruited to build a library,” said City Councilor Greg Parker. I know this has been frustrating for her as it has for a number of people in the community.

“I can understand Penny feeling at not having the full support of this city.

“It’s a huge loss for the city. Especially for people wanting or thinking of moving here or locating a business here,” he said. “It raises questions about the city’s commitment to traditional community services like libraries.”

Library board president Jon Dragt called Hummel a highly capable and competent worker.

“But I watched her struggle to work with city council and the mayor who at best can be described as bumbling and incompetent,” Dragt said. “I’ve seen in the last couple of months them turn hostile by not inviting her to important library planning meetings and the council liaison Ken Rider is not joining us at library board meetings at the table but sitting behind Penny and secretly recording the meeting.

“She always acted professionally and life is too short for someone of that caliber to put up with that amount of garbage," he said. “I’m surprised she lasted as long as she did.”

“Here’s what we lose,” said Linda Warwick, a member of the library board and president of the Friends of the Canby Public Library. “We lose the honor of having the president of the Oregon Library Association working in the city. She was a great director. She built a wonderful staff. Readership is up enormously.”

“She was absolutely dedicated to getting a new library built and not only raised widespread community support and almost a million in funds which has gone absolutely no where.

“She’s a huge loss to the community.”

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