Tulsa City-County Library CEO Takes Job In California

Friday, October 14th 2016, 4:52 pm
By: Richard Clark

The Tulsa City-County Library has a job opening. After six years filled with accomplishments and controversy, CEO Gary Shaffer is leaving.

Perhaps Shaffer’s most notable accomplishment is renovating and re-opening Central Library.

But the library system gave Shaffer a lot in return - ask anyone who's been inside.

"This is a world-class library," said library patron, Kay Blanchard-Grell.

Thomas and Reade Rex said the newly renovated Central Library in downtown Tulsa is a job well done.

"I think this is going to be a huge improvement," Thomas Rex said.

Reade Rex said, "It's really big, which is the best part about it."

Judy Randle, chair of the Tulsa City-County Library Commission, said the project is Shaffer's legacy.

"Oh, absolutely,” she said. “I mean, that is now the crown jewel of Tulsa and the development of downtown."

The commission announced Friday that Shaffer accepted another job at the University of Southern California.

He'll be director of the USC Master of Management in Library and Information Science program, as well as director of its Center for Library Leadership and Management.

Randle said she's grateful for Shaffer's hard work.

10/1/2016: Related Story: Central Library Reopened After $50M Renovations

"He has just worked tirelessly for the Tulsa system. When we hired him we wanted someone to take us into the 21st Century. We were already in the 21st Century, but we saw the need for developing and we didn't have the capability for it," she said.

But Shaffer has reason to thank Tulsa, too.

The library commission paid him during a three-month sabbatical, which he used to finish his Ph.D. program; his salary was more than $170,000.

Because he's leaving, Shaffer will owe the library system some of that sabbatical pay.

Shaffer also drew criticism when he required all children to get a library card - participation in the Summer Reading program plummeted as a result.

Still, Randle said Shaffer brought Tulsa's library system into the 21st Century.

"He's going to be teaching the library leaders of the future, and Tulsa's going to be the example he points to, so we win," she said.

Randle said the library commission will meet on Wednesday to talk about where to go from here.