The woman who has led Mesa’s library system since scandal forced her predecessor out in December will keep the job for at least 18 more months.
Trisha Sorensen has seen the city’s three libraries through lean times.
She had no prior library experience before she was brought over from the city’s quality and organizational development office, where she worked since 1999. But she has won praise for her approach to managing the library’s 160 employees.
"I wish they could’ve found somebody that had more library experience, but that just didn’t pan out for right now," she said.
The city narrowed its search for a permanent replacement from about 40 applicants to two finalists last month, community services manager Joe Holmwood said.
Of these, "one parlayed the position to kind of get a better deal where they were at, used it as a negotiating point, and wound up being successful at it," Holmwood said. The city couldn’t reach an agreement with the second.
Holmwood said he is finalizing plans for a "management development opportunity," where senior library administrators try their hand at highlevel jobs through the rest of Sorensen’s tenure. One of them could become the next library director.
Former library director Patsy Hansel resigned while on probation with the city for sexual harassment allegations after complaints of retaliation and low morale surfaced.
David Lines, vice president of the Friends of the Library fund-raising board, said he hasn’t worked with Sorensen, but "I have worked with several people on the staff, and all of them are happy she’s staying on."
Sorensen must deal with a $14.5 million budget, which may lose another $1 million in quality-of-life sales tax money after the next fiscal year.
"If we don’t get the quality of life money, we’ll have some tough decisions to make in the next year," she said. "And if we do get the quality of life, we’ll still have some tough decisions to make."