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Cities form library partnership
St. Petersburg provides library director for Pinellas Park
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The Pinellas Park Library welcomes interim director Angela Pietras from the St. Petersburg Library System.
PINELLAS PARK – With a vacant library director position to fill, Pinellas Park officials took a creative, unorthodox approach to finding the right person for the job: They teamed up with St. Petersburg.

The two cities have formed a partnership to fill Pinellas Park's gap in administrative services. St. Petersburg has provided a temporary director for the library in hopes the collaboration becomes permanent.

“This temporary arrangement provides a springboard to explore the potential for longer term collaborations in a variety of scenarios,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster in a press release. “Partnerships are essential to the sustainability of local governments.”

Pinellas Park Mayor Sandra Bradbury added, “This is an area where we have long discussed the potential for partnerships. This was the perfect opportunity to bring that discussion into action.”

The short-term deal is for a total of 90 days – starting with 45 days and an option to extend it for another 45. Pinellas Park, which has a salary range of around $61,000 to $101,000 for its library director, will pay St. Petersburg $30,000 for the three months.

“This seemed like a great opportunity to explore further opportunities for the two cities to work together on library services,” said Debra Rose, library and recreation services administrator for Pinellas Park. She added, “This is about the best use of resources.”

Mika Nelson, interim director for the St. Petersburg Library System, said, “We just wanted to help out a sister city in a time of need,” adding, “There’s a lot to be learned on both sides.”

Angela Pietras, who most recently served as coordinator of St. Petersburg’s Main Library, started her new, temporary position with Pinellas Park on Dec. 3. The position had been open for about a month, after the city hired Anne Humphreys to fill it in September. Humphreys worked only from Sept. 17 through Oct. 30 before resigning. The prior director had retired just months before, after a long career with the city, Rose said.

Such a collaboration isn't new to Pinellas Park. "After all, we're the billing department for Kenneth City, and have been for about 10 to 15 years now," Pinellas Park City Manager Michael Gustafson said. "And they need just one person to do the work, but they wind up getting the whole billing department."

That’s how Gustafson hopes this library collaboration will work, since St. Petersburg has the expertise of running a multi-branch system with more employees than the single Pinellas Park Library. “We’ve been taking a look at other services in the library world we can collaborate on, such as purchasing,” he said.

Gustafson’s wife, Laurel, recently retired from her position as director of the St. Petersburg Library System around Thanksgiving. They’d discussed a potential collaboration of library services between the two cities, but since his wife held a leadership position, it seemed like a conflict of interest, he said. “We’ve been talking about the possibility of joint services for years,” he said. And once she retired, the two cities quickly hashed out a deal.

Both sides involved are hoping this trial period goes well and will lead to a long-term collaboration between the cities on library services.
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