MOUNT DESERT — Elly Andrews, who is retiring after seven years as director of the Northeast Harbor Library, is “a very vibrant, open-minded, open-hearted person who has done an exceptional job,” said Arthur Martinez, chair of the library’s board of directors.
The board has chosen Amy Wisehart, director of the Ellsworth Public Library since 2016, to succeed Andrews.
Martinez said there were two strong candidates for the job, but that Wisehart’s experience in Ellsworth and, before that, as director of the Hartland (Vermont) Public Library, helped make her “the clear winner.”
“She has a very good reputation for her programmatic work in those two libraries,” he said. “A library is more than a place for books; it’s a place for learning, a place for the community to meet and exchange perspectives. Amy’s rich background in offering programs in addition to the traditional things that libraries offer was an important factor for us in choosing Amy.
“We are very lucky to have somebody who has experience running a community library like ours.”
It has been reported that Wisehart was looking to leave the Ellsworth Public Library because of funding difficulties including budget cuts by the City Council in recent years. But she said, also, that since leaving Hartland, she has missed the feeling of a small town and is excited about taking the reins of the library in Northeast Harbor.
“You walk into that building, and it’s clear that the community really loves and supports the library,” Wisehart said. “It has a really excellent staff and a very dedicated board of directors. The library has a lot going for it, and it’s a great opportunity for me.”
Describing herself as a “community-focused librarian,” she said she looks forward to getting to know the community and “engaging with what the community’s needs and interests are.”
Andrews worked at the Northeast Harbor Library for six years before being named director in 2015.
“I love the library, so the decision to retire has been very difficult,” she said. “There is no place I would rather be. But I think it’s time to pass the baton.”
Andrews said she looks forward to doing some traveling and having the opportunity to spend more time with her daughter and son-in-law and their two young children, who live in New Mexico.
She said that when she decided to retire, she approached Wisehart to see if she might be interested in the job.
“I think it’s a perfect fit; she’ll do a really good job,” Andrews said. “I think it will be a very smooth transition.”
Wisehart will start work at the Northeast Harbor Library May 16. Andrews’ last day there will be May 27.
Martinez said of Andrews, “She brought to the library a degree of connectivity to the community. She is a year-round resident of MDI and also closely connected to the summer community. It’s important for a library director to be able to understand the needs of both parts of the community.”
He also praised Andrews for “taking the library through the COVID pandemic on an even keel.”
“She was careful and thoughtful and sought the advice and consent of the staff to keep the library functioning during that period, and that in my view was a remarkable achievement.”
And Martinez credited Andrews with creating “a very rich suite of programs” to educate, engage and entertain the public.