Shelby Township Public Library secures new director

By: Sarah Wojcik, | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 2, 2013

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — For the past 12 years, Dale Parus, of New Baltimore, has directed the Harper Woods Public Library, but he will switch gears Oct. 14 and become the director of the Shelby Township Public Library.

The spot has been vacant since May 10, when David Conklin left the position to head up the Genesee Library District.

The Shelby Township Board of Trustees voted Sept. 17 to hire Parus as the library director out of three candidates who were interviewed by the board and Shelby Township Human Resources Director Lisa Suida Sept. 5.

Trustee Paula Filar made the motion to hire Parus, supported by Doug Wozniak. The six board members present — Nick Nightingale was absent — voted unanimously to take on Parus as the new director.

While he did not oppose the appointment, Treasurer Michael Flynn expressed a desire for the HR Department and Supervisor’s Office to keep an eye on Parus.

“I’m sure Mr. Parus will do a satisfactory job; however, I would note that another candidate was the top scorer both in the HR Department and in the outside peer review process, and I personally thought would have been a better pick,” he said.

Supervisor Rick Stathakis said in a later interview that Parus was his choice from the very beginning, but the agenda item at the meeting was left blank for the board members to choose a candidate, and that he was glad his gut feeling panned out.

“I think in a climate where you have financial challenges, his skill set is perfect because we do have a limited budget here in Shelby Township, and he gave thorough examples of how he managed through some challenging times in his present library,” Stathakis said. “The second thing I liked about him is he has library director experience.”

He also mentioned that Filar had a long conversation with Conklin, the former library director, and some other members of the library community who knew Parus, and all of his references checked out.

Suida said she feels that Parus is a good candidate and will be a good director for the library. She added that the library has had quite a bit of turnover recently in the form of retirement, resignation and maternal leave, so having some stability will be a positive for the institution.

Parus holds a master’s of library and information science, and an undergraduate degree in journalism from Wayne State University.

“I’ve always been an information fanatic, so (the library career path) just seemed like a logical pick for me,” Parus said. “I always enjoyed helping people in some way, so it just fits my lifestyle and the way that I think.”

He said it has always been a goal of his to work in a class VI library, and the opportunity at Shelby was a logical career move. He will also stay in the same Suburban Library Cooperative as Harper Woods, so he will be familiar with the circulation system, catalogue and committee members.

Some things he said he would like to improve at the Shelby library include punching up the website, growing the digital materials and working on the ambiance of space, so that children’s programs can be educational, as well as unobtrusive.

“PR is extremely important in this type of government organization — PR and programming are very important to me,” he said, adding that he wants to bring more educational and health programming, especially explanations of the Affordable Care Act, to the library.

Parus helped secure and implement a building bond to renovate portions of the Harper Woods Public Library in 2003 and also worked in collaboration with city department heads for a library survival millage in 2010.

“I am really excited to start working with (the Shelby library) staff and township leadership, and basically make Shelby a place where you can succeed and flourish,” he said.