The incoming head of the Thunder Bay Public Library says he's going to look to the community to chart the institution's future.
After Richard Togman officially becomes the library's chief executive officer in September, he intends to lead fresh public consultations that could take the library in new directions.
"Not quite back to the drawing board," Togman said. "We have a lot of good foundations at the library but I think opening up the conceptual terrain so to speak and saying: 'We don't have to be limited by what is. We can imagine something different and then work towards creating that.' And I think that's including all stakeholders."
On July 19, the Thunder Bay Public Library Board announced that "an extensive national search," led to hiring Togman, who had served on that board for nearly five years. He will replace nine-year CEO John Pateman, after the board decided not to renew his contract in March.
John Pateman praised:
John Pateman is author of Developing Community-Led Public Libraries
Union calls out hiring process
Togman's hiring did come with a bit of controversy, within an hour of the City of Thunder Bay announcing Togman's appointment, the union that represents library staff issued a statement condemning the hire.
CUPE Local 3120 president Margaret Demillo pointed out that the board on which Togman served oversaw pandemic layoffs affecting, "most of the library workforce" in 2020. Twenty of those positions were permanently eliminated.
"Mr. Togman could have had access to information that would have given him an advantage over other candidates," Demillo says. "We find it curious how he plans to provide leadership to an organization when optically, it's questionable."
During Togman's time as a board member, he was holding staff working groups about workplace culture concerns and operational issues but never about library vision or direction.