Sullivan signs off as CEO of county library

By Chad Ingram

After a dozen years at the helm of the Haliburton County Public Library, CEO Bessie Sullivan has tendered her resignation, which will take effect at the end of May.

“Twelve years at the Haliburton County Public Library has been rewarding,” Sullivan said in a prepared statement. “I believe that an organization can only thrive with a leader for so long and then it is time for a change. Due to COVID-19 and some health issues, I have been prompted to make that change. I have loved working with the wonderful staff at the library. People who are deeply committed to their communities by providing safe spaces where library users could further their quest for knowledge through learning technology and information seeking. Past members of the library board have worked hard to understand the legislation, their role in governance, and the challenges facing public libraries today. Some I have had the pleasure of working with for many years and the growth of the library is a culmination of their work, an engaged staff, and an interested public. Although I am sad to be leaving, I am looking forward to some new challenges.”

Sullivan was instrumental in modernizing the county’s library system, introducing a swath of technological and digital improvements.

“Modern librarianship is a field of rapid change, where issues of democracy, the public good, diversity, and intellectual freedom challenge and stretch our knowledge and worldview,” Erin Kernohan-Berning, branch services librarian, told the Echo. “Lifelong learning is mandatory in the profession, and having mentors to foster that learning is important. I am grateful to have had Bessie as a mentor as we’ve grappled with some of these larger issues in our small corner of the world.”

In a press release, Sally Howson, chair of the library board, said the board was accepting Sullivan’s resignation with regret.

“Bessie has transitioned Haliburton County’s library services into an enviable and well-respected system that serves many people in a range of needs and interests,” the release reads. “Under her leadership HCPL won several awards, some of these include: the Angus Mowat Award of Excellence (2012) for the Celebrity Readers Program; the Ontario Public Library Association Lead ership in Adult Readers Advisory Award (2015); and the Ontario Public Library Association New Library Building Award (2016) for the Wilberforce branch of the HCPL.

“The board and staff wish Bessie all the best in her future endeavours and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the community and its library services.”

Anna Babluck is currently the acting library CEO, as Sullivan has been on a leave.