After conducting a national search, the Allen County Public Library Board of Trustees announced its choice for the library’s next executive director.
In a special public meeting held Jan. 7 on Zoom, the board voted unanimously in favor of hiring Susan Baier. Baier was chosen from 40 applicants that were winnowed to four finalists who were presented to the board, which received input from library staff.
Baier currently serves as the library director for McCracken County Public Library in Paducah, Kentucky. Before that, she held administrative positions with the Los Angeles County Public Library and the Santa Clara (California) City Library. Baier will assume her role with Allen County Public Library on or before March 1. She has a master’s degree in library science from the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
Baier will fill a position that has been vacant since Greta Southard resigned in August 2020 with the library saying no public comment would be made on the matter. Southard had faced public criticism over the removal of books from the system, which prompted a Facebook group called “Stop the ACPL Books Purge!”
“Having chaired the search committee, I can attest to the rigor of the selection process,” Ben Eisbart, president of ACPL’s Board of Trustees, said in the announcement. “And now as board president, I can assure our patrons that the board did not settle for an OK candidate; our community treasure (ACPL) warrants much better ... and that is what we have in Susan.”
“It’s the honor of a lifetime to lead Allen County Public Library,” Baier said in the announcement. “I was drawn to the opportunity because of the library’s excellent reputation and the vibrancy of Fort Wayne and Allen County. As I progressed through the interview process and met the board of trustees and the staff, I became even further convinced that ACPL truly was exceptional. I’m thrilled to join this dynamic team, and I’m eager to meet the communities, people and partners that make ACPL special. I’m ready to work hard, have fun along the way, and deliver the absolute best in library services to our patrons.”
In 2020 the Allen County Public Library turned 125 years old. It now has the main library in downtown Fort Wayne and 13 branches in the city and outlying communities.
The McCracken County Public Library went fine free last April. Under Baier’s leadership, the library has fostered strategic partnerships that support community initiatives surrounding workforce and economic development, STEM education, and health and wellness. She is active in several professional and civic organizations. She is chair of the Kentucky Library Association’s Advocacy committee. She is the public image chair and a member of the board of the directors for the Rotary Club of Paducah. She serves on the board of Sprocket, a nonprofit innovation lab that empowers community education and growth for the digital economy. She is a member of the Paducah chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and volunteers for the local food insecurity nonprofit Project Pomona.
Before moving to Paducah, Baier served as library administrator for the Los Angeles County Public Library and oversaw operations at 19 community libraries. Among her proudest moments at LA County was conceptualizing and writing a $75,000 award winning grant to bring a DJ lab to the Compton Library, according to the announcement.
The result, “Compton Turns the Tables,” continues, with the DJ lab traveling to multiple county libraries and its graduates performing at community events. She is also a graduate of the American Library Association’s Certified Public Library Administrator program.