Debra Engelhardt, the director of Rogers Memorial Library, will be leaving her job in April to take the same position at a bigger library in Huntington.
Ms. Engelhardt, who has been with Rogers Memorial for seven years and was the director of Hampton Library in Bridgehampton for four years before that, informed the library’s board of trustees earlier this week of her decision to leave and gave the library three month’s notice to find a replacement.
“We’re all very sad,” said James Kennedy, the president of the board of trustees, on Thursday. “Simply put, she’s been an outstanding director, and she’s been a dedicated and skilled professional. And she, to a great extent through her efforts and hard work, has made our library in Southampton an outstanding community resource and a welcoming haven for all visitors.”
Mr. Kennedy said Ms. Engelhardt has the ability to bring out the best in people and has developed an excellent staff at the library. “As smart as she is, she has a great sense of humor and positive way of interacting with people,” he added. “That goes a long way.”
“It offers me opportunities for personal and professional growth,” Ms. Engelhardt said Thursday, as she explained her reasons for taking the job at the Huntington Public Library. “It’s another thriving village with a lot to offer and it offers me the next logical step in my career.”
Huntington comes with a larger staff—103 compared to Rogers’s 50 or so—a budget more than twice the size of the budget she manages at Rogers, and new challenges, Ms. Engelhardt said.
Library Trustee Ellen Myers said she wasn’t surprised to hear where Ms. Engelhardt’s career has taken her. “She has a lot to contribute to a big library.”
Looking back on her time at Rogers Memorial, Ms. Engelhardt said her proudest accomplishments were developing the staff and shaping the library’s culture, and helping to guide the formation of the Rogers Memorial Library Foundation, one of the library’s two fund-raising organizations. The other is the Friends of the Rogers Memorial Library.
The renovation and restoration of Cooper Hall, a historic building which sits next to Rogers Memorial on Coopers Farm Road, also occurred under Ms. Engelhardt’s watch. “It’s completion has resulted in a valuable community resource, as Cooper Hall offers several meeting rooms available for use by non-profits,” she said.
Though he lamented her departure, Mr. Kennedy noted “the search for a new director has begun already. We’re not wasting any time.”
The board anticipates it will take longer than three months to find Ms. Engelhardt’s replacement, Ms. Myers said.