By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Brockton Library Director Harry Williams III has announced he will resign from his position Friday, Feb. 4 to take over the head of Thomas Crane Library in Quincy the following Monday.
After waiting nearly a week to learn if the recommendation from the Quincy Library Trustees would become an appointment made by Mayor Thomas Koch, Williams said he received a fax Wednesday night approving Quincy’s new director.
“Now I know it’s a done deal,” Williams said.
Williams, 63, said his last day in Brockton will be Feb. 4, and he will begin his new job Monday, Feb. 7, when he will be officially sworn-in as the new director during Quincy’s annual swearing-in-ceremony for dozens of officials.
Williams said the timing couldn’t be better because every year his anniversary will fall on or close to Quincy’s annual swearing in ceremony.
“I like all my 'I’s' dotted and my 'T’s' crossed and it couldn’t have worked out better,” Williams said.
Since last week, Monday Dec. 13, Williams has been Quincy’s pick to replace Ann McLaughlin, Quincy’s longtime director who will retire at the end of January.
Williams said once he heard about the Quincy trustees’ vote, he contacted Brockton’s trustees and Mayor Linda Balzotti, but held back on congratulations or a resignation date, because he felt the deal wasn’t done because he had not received official notification from Koch that the trustees recommendation had been approved and Koch had made the appointment.
Williams was concerned Koch might not make the appointment and force another search for a director because of the controversy and contention over the months-long process that included numerous votes for and against Williams, other candidates and an eventual no vote to reopen the search.
Williams was voted in 3-2.
“I wasn’t sure if the search would be reopened,” Williams said. “Anything could happen,” he said.
Williams said several news outlets had confirmed Koch would make the appointment, but Williams said it was like tap dancing talking to people about it, because there was still some uncertainty in his mind until he heard from Koch himself.
Christopher Walker, a spokesman for Mayor Koch said Wedensday Koch expected to approve the recommendation and Williams’ hiring as the Crane Library’s new director.
“Mayor Koch anticipates doing that in short order,” Walker said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Walker said the appointment did not require a vote, only a letter of appointment from Koch.
Walker said Koch intended to send a letter to Williams “shortly” that would confirm the trustee’s recommendation, a move Walker said would be difficult to reverse.
“Once the mayor acts on the appointment it’s done--absolutely,” Walker said.
Williams said he received a fax copy of Koch’s letter late yesterday afternoon.
Williams said he is glad to have received it and can now officially tell people it is a done deal.
He said he looks forward to a new challenge in Quincy and will miss his nearly 7 years as Brockton’s director, a time when he worked closely with numerous organizations and individuals who helped get a lot of things done within Brockton’s library system, including renovating the East Branch at no cost to taxpayers, numerous grant awards including updating public internet access through grants from the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation and initiating the City Lights parties over the last two years.
“The only thing that could tempt me to change my current, and very satisfying work and life situation is such an opportunity, which will allow me to spend more time and energy promoting and advocating for the library that employs me, and for libraries in general,” Williams said.
He said he isn’t too worried about the controversy in Quincy that surrounded his appointment. He said he has helped mend fences in past positions and believes the same will happen in Quincy.
Williams, a native New Yorker, took over as library director in Brockton in 2004. Before coming to Brockton he worked as librarian, assistant director or director in Rahway, New Jersey, Webster, Dudley, Southbridge, and Worcester.
“I believe once that political stuff is over people will come together and do what is in the best interest for the library,” Williams said. “I think people will say, ‘now that’s over and we will pull together,'” he said.
He said his resignation date, Feb. 4, should be enough time for a smooth transition and as Brockton seeks his replacement Assistant Director Keith Choquette and others in the library have the skills and talent to easily fill-in with functions, like grant writing and report writing.
"I have publicly committed to a smooth transition and I don't see February as being a problem," Williams said.
Energetic and enthusiastic, Williams is a young 63 and said he has “only just begun,” and envisions a productive tenure as Crane Library’s new director.
“The library is an energetic and nourishing environment,” Williams said. “It keeps me young,” he said.