County library system director steps down

January 2, 2014

By Staff

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Bill Ptacek, longtime director of the King County Library System, announced Dec. 19 that he would step down to take a similar position in Alberta, Canada.

Ptacek, who has led KCLS since 1989, will leave to become CEO of the Calgary Public Library on Feb. 1.

Bill Ptacek

Bill Ptacek

During his 25-year tenure, Ptacek’s vision for technology and collection management kept the library system in the forefront of public libraries nationally.

Continual innovation, including upgrades to computer-based data and materials handling systems, public computer access, and organizational and library staffing models enabled the King County Library System to stay ahead of the curve and provide seamless service through both economic booms and downturns, according to a news release from the library system.

Under his leadership, the KCLS experienced unprecedented growth as King County’s population and economy expanded and local municipalities voted to join the library system.

Voter-approved capital improvement bond measures (passed in 1988 and 2004) funded new, replacement and expanded libraries, adding nearly 515,000 square feet of library space, while annual circulation grew to more than 22 million items.

KCLS typically shares one of the top three spots for highest circulating public library in the United States and leads the U.S., Canada and Australia in e-book circulation. The KCLS was named Busiest Library in 2010 and Library Journal’s 2011 Library of the Year.

“I am lucky to have had a chance to be a part of this special organization and am confident that KCLS will continue to be the talk of the town in the library world. I will miss that, and all of you,” Ptacek wrote in an email to local Friends of the Library groups.

Julie Brand, director of community relations and marketing, will serve as interim director until a new director is hired.

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