August 19, 2014 - John Shaloiko, Executive Director of Southeastern New York Library Resources Council has announced his retirement due to health reasons. John, who has been director of the council for the past 21 years, will step down at the end of August 2014. The Board of Trustees has appointed Tessa Killian, SENYLRC's Associate Director, as the Interim Executive Director. They have also appointed a search committee to commence the process of hiring a new Executive Director.
In a statement to members, John thanked the SENYLRC staff for being "truly committed, professional, and ever approachable." He also felt, "blessed to work under the guidance of a very supportive Board - one which always kept the best interests of Council membership in mind when discussing and implementing strategic plans, policies, and other directives." He also added, "So thank you to all. It has been an enjoyable 21 year run. Best of luck to our member organizations and their staff. Exciting, but challenging times still await you."
John Shaloiko was appointed as Executive Director of SENYLRC in August of 1993. At that time, the Council had seven employees and one computer. Since then, John has been party to innumerable changes in librarianship at large as well as locally. Under John's leadership, SENYLRC was the first consortium in North America to use the Virtual Document eXchange platform for electronic resource sharing, branded as the SEAL ILL service. The Hudson River Valley Heritage (HRVH) service was one of the first regional digital repository services offered by a library system in New York State. SENYLRC also innovated ways to leverage the licensing of very costly medical electronic information resources, as well as host the web access gateways for hospital libraries.
John oversaw the purchase of a building for SENYLRC's headquarters in Highland, where we have been for ten years. The Council has achieved considerable savings over the years in part because the building was purchased for below market value. The building serves as an office as well as a meeting place for our members, who continue to benefit from having a comfortable meeting space to network, learn, and collaborate.
Working with the Board of Trustees, John's legacy includes the newly-established Twila Snead Award for Excellence, which debuted this year and honors the work and innovations of our members. With their work on the recent feasibility study, John and the Board of Trustees have also laid the groundwork for future system-wide shared services including functional consolidation or potential mergers.
Since John has had to take time off to concentrate on his health in the past few weeks, the staff of SENYLRC has already begun to miss his presence in the office. John has the unique ability to succeed at both managing matters of Council operations and managing the staff. We have enjoyed his positive leadership and genuine interest in both our work and our lives. His perpetual good mood, even in the face of hardship, is infectious. We are sad to see John retire because he has been so good to us, to our members, and to the library community.
For more about John's tenure at SENYLRC as well as a short history of his accomplishments, you can read the September-October 2013 SENYLRC Matters, which celebrated his 20-year anniversary at the Council.
Tessa Killian, who has worked at SENYLRC for the past 14 years, will now serve as Interim Executive Director. She currently serves as the Council's Associate Director and is responsible for managing programs, creating continuing education initiatives and managing the day-to-day activities of the staff.
Tessa cites John as a visionary leader who inspires her and the rest of the staff. "He encourages us to think big" she said, "and then he gives us the support to make our ideas happen. One example of that was the idea that grew to become HRVH Historical Newspapers."
Before starting her tenure at SENYLRC, Tessa was a librarian at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh and Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. She started at SENYLRC as the manager of continuing education programs and electronic resources. Her responsibilities changed when she was appointed Manager of Technology and Administrative Services, where she was charged with overseeing the new HRVH service. She has also worked with hospital libraries, managing their electronic resource renewals and overseeing their transition to Drupal websites, and has worked with special libraries to help establish their catalogs on Koha.
Of her many responsibilities here at SENYLRC, she has been most impactful as the Council's grant writer. In this role, she has successfully received funding for concepts and ideas that turn into reality when they become a working project and eventually a service offered by the Council. One example is the HRVH Historical Newspaper Project that started with LSTA funds, and another is last year's successful continuing education webinar series that was paid for through similar funds. This allows her to partake in what she calls, "the most rewarding aspect of working with member libraries, which is helping and networking with other librarians." She went on to say, "when people in other fields ask me what I do, I tell them that we are librarian's librarians, because SENYLRC exists to help them do their jobs better."
As Tessa has started the transition to Interim Executive Director, she is impressed by how much John has taught her and his meticulous organization of Council matters that will be vital in ensuring a smooth transition during the coming weeks and months.