The Board of Library Commissioners, with the assistance of the search firm Bradbury Miller Associates, voted unanimously to name John J. McNaughton as the new Library Director. McNaughton will replace long-time Grand Rapids Public Library Director Marcia A. Warner, who retired in December.
The selection was made at the February 27 meeting of the Board of Library Commissioners.
The search for a new director began last summer with the assistance of the search firm and a board appointed advisory panel. After the first round of interviews failed to find a successful candidate, the library board reopened the search in January. Four finalists and an alternate were identified. Two of the four candidates, Tonya Kennon and Dr. Matthew Hortt, withdrew from the process, and the library board asked the alternate, McNaughton, to interview for the position.
McNaughton will leave his position as the director of the Romeo District Library in Southeast Michigan and is expected to assume his duties at GRPL in mid-April.
“I am looking forward to working closely with the board and the team to bring the best services possible to the residents of Grand Rapids,” said McNaughton. “As someone who is fiercely committed to the idea that libraries can be a driver for social change by providing places and services to advance equity, literacy, and community engagement, I am excited to build on the strong foundation the Grand Rapids Public Library has already put in place.”
McNaughton’s seventeen years of love for public library service began when he was hired as a circulation clerk in Plano, Texas. He spent four years as a reference librarian before accepting his first directorship at the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He has served as the director of the Romeo District Library since 2014.
He has extensive experience building consensus between boards, employees, unions, patrons, and donors. McNaughton is an active member of the Michigan Library Association and the American Library Association. While at the Romeo library, he created a thriving new Teen Services department, redesigned the lobby to improve customer service and provide new spaces for small groups and studying, and developed a new strategic plan. Past accomplishments include raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in partnership with local donors for building improvements to the Ishpeming Carnegie Library to improve accessibility and ADA compliance.
McNaughton holds a Masters of Library and Information Science degree from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in English from Northern Michigan University.
“The Board is confident that John will build upon the great work of Marcia Warner, including easy access to information, superior customer service, and a deep commitment to serving all the residents of Grand Rapids,” said James Botts, President of the Board of Library Commissioners.