Elm City libraries get new leader

With a new librarian at the helm, the New Haven Public Library is planning for the future.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr. announced this month that Christopher Korenowsky will assume the position of city librarian when current librarian, Jim Welbourne, retires Oct. 1.

“We were looking for someone with a lot of energy, a vision of the library, of the future — and the understanding that libraries are a community resource,” said Elsie Chapman, president of the library Board of Directors. “We also wanted someone who is steeped in technology, like social networking; someone very focused on the library being an integral part of the community.”

Korenowsky, an Ohio native with more than 20 years experience working in public libraries, fit or exceeded all of these criteria, Chapman said, adding that he beat out nearly 100 applicants for the position.

Korenowsky said his two main goals for the library are to make sure New Haven citizens understand the public library system’s value and to reach out to the community in new and different ways, in particular with technology.

“Libraries have the unique ability right now to really reinvent this industry, to remain relevant,” Korenowsky said, adding that social networking with Twitter and Facebook is one way to accomplish that goal.

The New Haven Library Board of Directors began a national search for Welbourne’s replacement in April and received applications from around the country for the position, Chapman said.

Welbourne wrote in an e-mail that he hopes Korenowsky can restore staff positions lost to budget costs, raise funds to support collections and collaborate more with New Haven public schools. Chapman said she applauds Welbourne’s service to the library and that Korenowsky will be able to build on Welbourne’s efforts over the past decade.

“I thank Jim for his years of service to our residents and his dedication to growing the services of our library system,” DeStefano said at the announcement of Korenowsky’s appointment this month. “I am pleased to welcome Christopher to New Haven and look forward to the work he will do to further shape the impact of New Haven’s library branches throughout our neighborhoods.”

Korenowsky said he saw firsthand what a public library could offer, when he was a child and his parents took him to story time at his local library. He later applied successfully for a job at a library as soon as he was old enough.

“For all intents and purposes, I’ve worked in a public library since I was 15,” Korenowsky said. “Public libraries are in my blood.”

Korenowsky started working at the Columbus Metropolitan Library at age 18 and was eventually responsible for two regional branches with about 70 employees and 1.8 million circulating volumes. A year and a half ago, Korenowsky was promoted to director of professional development for the Ohio Library Council, which advocates for 251 public libraries in Ohio.

“The bottom line turned out to be that I enjoyed the opportunity to serve as director, but I missed being directly involved on a daily basis in the public library setting,” Korenowsky said. “I knew that was something I wanted to return to.”

A free public gathering is planned at the New Haven Public Library on Nov. 4 to recognize Welbourne’s service and welcome Korenowsky. When he starts Oct. 4, Korenowsky will be the seventh person to hold the title of city librarian.

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