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Kathryn Harris named Lincoln Library Interim Director

Kathryn Harris
Kathryn Harris

Springfield Mayor Misty Buscher has named an interim director for the city's public library.

Kathryn Harris will assume the role June 1. Harris retired as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s Division Manager for Library Services in 2015, ending a long career that spanned service at several institutions.

Harris has over 40 years working in local libraries including the City’s Lincoln Library where she began in 1971 working the reference department.

“It is truly an honor to have Kathryn Harris lead this library in this transition for our City’s library,” said Mayor Buscher. “Her contributions to the community go beyond and I’m very confident in her abilities to not only run the department, but to also provide direction for the library’s future."

Buscher's office said a national search for a library director will be conducted for a permanent director. “I’m very excited to build on the City of Springfield’s efforts to provide the best services to our citizens,” Buscher said.

The mayor, who took over the office this month, fired Summer Beck-Griffith, who had been on the job for less than a year. She was appointed by previous mayor Jim Langfelder. Buscher had raised concerns about Beck-Griffith lacking a library science degree. The mayor told the State Journal-Register some grants might require a librarian.

More than three dozen library employees signed on to a letter of support for Beck-Griffth.

Harris holds a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was inducted as an Illinois Library Luminary, which is a recognition of those who have made a significant contribution to Illinois libraries.

Among her other notable accomplishments were service as the Abraham Lincoln Association's first African-American and first woman president. She's also known for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman

The library's city historian Curtis Mann, who also managed the Sangamon Valley Collection, was named as a temporary replacement as director this month.

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