Slidell public library almost ready to reopen _lowres

The St. Tammany Parish Library system will have a new director by the end of February, if the schedule set Tuesday by the Library Board of Control pans out.

Whoever gets the top job will fill the position vacated by Donald Westmoreland, who retired in March after leading the system for nine years.

The board’s search committee announced in October that it had narrowed the field of applicants to three finalists:

• Daniel Gillane, a member of the Lafayette Public Library’s support staff who previously served as the development and gifts librarian at the University of Louisiana’s Dupré Library.

• Kelly LaRocca, assistant director of the St. Tammany system for the past eight years.

• Jennifer Patterson, director since 2016 of the Albemarle Regional Library in Ahoskie, North Carolina.

Board President Rebecca Taylor announced that three dates in January had been set aside for daylong interviews with the finalists, and board members agreed to meet in February to select the new director.

Board members also adopted a resolution designating up to $500,000 of library capital improvement funds to purchase 1.24 acres of land next to the Slidell branch on Robert Boulevard for additional parking.

LaRocca told board members that the lack of adequate parking has been a problem at the branch for years, and said the additional land would solve the problem.

As a public body, the library can only purchase the land at or below its appraised value. The resolution authorizes the parish to obtain an appraisal of the land, with a goal of purchasing it on the library’s behalf if the appraisal comes in at an acceptable level.