The St. Tammany Parish Library Board of Control has selected three finalists in its search for a new library director to replace Donald Westmoreland, who resigned in March after serving for nine years.

Board President Rebecca Taylor announced the candidates at the board's Oct. 23 meeting at the Slidell branch. They are:

  • Daniel Gillane, librarian IV, Lafayette Public Library.
  • Kelly LaRocca, assistant director, St. Tammany Parish Library.
  • Jennifer Patterson, director, Albemarle Regional Library, Ahoskie, North Carolina.

Gillane is a member of the Lafayette library system’s support staff and was previously development and gifts librarian at the University of Louisiana’s Dupré Library.

LaRocca has been with the St. Tammany system for 13 years and has been the assistant director for eight years.

Patterson has been a librarian since 2010 and has led the Albemarle system since 2016.

Taylor said that search committee members will soon begin checking the candidates’ references. Once that has been done, the full board will conduct in-person interviews with each of the finalists, then meet to decide who will run the St. Tammany system. Taylor did not say when she expected the new director to be in place.

In other business, LaRocca reported that the Covington Branch Library at 310 W. 21st Ave. has closed for renovations, and a temporary branch has opened in the Claiborne Hill shopping center at 1200 U.S. Business 190.

Assistant Director Brent Geiger, who briefed board members on the renovation project, said that the bid by Steel-R Development LLC of Covington for just under $1.4 million was the lowest of six received when bids were opened by the parish procurement department on Aug. 30.

Steel-R’s bid was accepted, despite a brief delay caused when the next lowest bidder, Barbara Enterprises Inc. of Abita Springs (BEI), lodged a protest. BEI said that Steel-R’s bid should be rejected because the company had neglected to include the bid date and time on the outside of its bid envelope. Steel-R was allowed by the parish to add the information and resubmit its bid.

BEI withdrew its protest, however, when Assistant District Attorney Angel Byrum informed its attorney that neither state law nor parish procedures require that the date and time of submission be included on bid envelopes.

LaRocca, who oversees library finances, said she was pleased with Steel-R’s bid because it should allow the renovation to be completed well within the $2.3 million estimated cost even after allowing for architects’ fees and contingencies.

The project will include new roofing, air conditioning, lighting and furnishings, as well as the conversion of 3,000 square feet of administrative space to public use. Work should begin by late November or early December and take six to nine months to complete.