If you go

What: Public focus group concerning recruitment of a new library and arts director

When: 4 to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 30

Where: Boulder library north conference room, 1001 Arapahoe Ave.

Boulder has brought in a specialized search firm to aid in a national quest for the city's next library and arts director.

Missouri-based Bradbury Associates/Gossage Sager Associates was tapped this week to help Boulder find the person who will take over for the recently retired Valerie Maginnis. The firm has been consulting libraries, especially on executive searches, since 1983, according to Boulder officials.

Boulder is paying the firm $24,000 for its services, according to city spokesman Patrick von Keyserling.

The consultants will meet with library staff members, the library and arts commissions and city residents to get a sense of what Boulder is looking for in a director and to make sure the search process reflects community priorities, von Keyserling said.

"That information will go into informing the city manager on what the job description should be," von Keyserling said.

He said a specific job description for candidates to review "will narrow that pool to those most likely to lead a complex library and arts system like we have here in Boulder and also to reflect our community values and be a good fit for the city."

"Boulder Public Library is a centerpiece of the community as an institution and public gathering place," City Manager Jane Brautigam said in a news release about the search process. "It deserves a leader who understands our community values and who can build on the successes of its previous directors."

In recent years, the library and arts director role has been difficult for the city to fill on a long-term basis.

Maginnis, who retired Sept. 20, was hired in 2011 after two of the city's top candidates for the position following a similar nationwide search withdrew their names from consideration. Tony Tallent, who held the job before Maginnis, resigned after less than two years as director.

The city did use a recruitment firm during the search that led to Maginnis, von Keyserling said, though that firm did not have the library expertise that Bradbury/Gossage Sager has.

Boulder Library Commission chairwoman Anne Sawyer called bringing in the search firm "a great step."

"Having somebody who specializes in hiring in libraries is a good thing," Sawyer said. "I was appointed to the commission about four months before Tony Tallent resigned, so it's been a tumultuous 3 1/2 years."

The search is coming at an important time for Boulder's library system.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to dedicate an additional $60,000 of Boulder's 2014 budget to the soon-to-open north Boulder library station at the corner of Yarmouth Avenue and Broadway. That money will be combined with $205,000 already dedicated to the 600-square-foot station to keep it open 40 hours a week, as opposed to the 20 hours that were originally funded.

The city is also in the planning and design phase of a $3.14 million capital improvement project for the main branch that will eventually move and renovate the children's and teen sections as well as reorganize other heavily used sections.

Both of the projects are expected to move forward in the first financial quarter of 2014, Sawyer said.

"That is one of the things I really would like to see in a new director: someone who is willing to get to know the community and understand how the library can be a center that brings the community together ... ," Sawyer said. "We have lots of exciting opportunities for our library, and having a new director with ideas and vision and creativity around those things and inspiring the staff to have ideas and creativity and vision for using these spaces is going to be very exciting."

Maureen Rait, Boulder's executive director of public works, is serving as library and arts director on an interim basis.

The city hopes to announce a new director by March 31.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328, rubinoj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/JoeCarmenRubino.