Little Read
Peter Coyl at The Little Read, 2017. COURTESY MONTCLAIR PUBLIC LIBRARY

I chaired the search committee that hired Peter Coyl as director of the Montclair Public Library. We were impressed by his knowledge of the field, his national involvement in the profession, his erudition and amiability, and especially his vision for the library — both where to go and how to get there. We wholeheartedly recommended hiring him to the board at large, whose members agreed.

Peter will now direct the fourth-largest library system in California. Its 30 locations serve almost 1.5 million residents in diverse urban, suburban and rural settings. After a national search for this highly sought-after position, Sacramento library leadership’s decision to hire him confirms the enthusiasm we felt for Peter in 2017. They believe — and I agree — they have hired a visionary leader who will, with managerial savvy and keen familiarity with the state of the art, take them forward to what a library of the 2020s and beyond should be.

Back here, we still do not know why the recent forensic audit of the Montclair Public Library was conducted. Nor do we know how its $30,000-plus cost was authorized. The vague, unsubstantiated charges in the audit itself and subsequent communications from the township give no clue. Present in all this are concerns — indirect and, again, unsubstantiated and vague — about Peter’s leadership.

Details and explanations have been staggeringly absent. These concerns were absurd when first voiced. They are even more absurd now that one of the most prominent libraries in the country has chosen Peter as its new leader. Perhaps those behind this effort will finally now realize how ludicrous it is … or if they truly believe substance is on their side, will share it with us.

Trite but true, Montclair’s loss is Sacramento’s gain. Hopefully, we can soon hire someone here worthy of being his successor.

Clifford Kulwin

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