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October 4, 2013

Harper Woods Library to seek new leader

Dale Parus leaves for Shelby Township

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

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Harper Woods Library to seek new leader
Dale Parus, of New Baltimore, will leave his position as director of the Harper Woods Public Library to fulfill his goal of working for a bigger library. Parus will become director of the Shelby Township Public Library Oct. 14.

HARPER WOODS — After serving the patrons of the Harper Woods Library and the community for more than a decade as the city’s library director, Dale Parus is moving on to a new opportunity in Shelby Township, but that doesn’t mean he won’t miss Harper Woods.

Parus said he will miss his staff, the library board members and interacting with patrons, some of whom he’s assisted at the library regularly for years.

Parus, who has been saying his goodbyes, mentioned a recent conversation he had with one of the senior citizens whom he often helps.

“She just put her arm around me and told me that she’ll miss me,” he said. “How do you put that into words? It’s pretty special.”

He will spend his last day as the Harper Woods library director at the end of this week before taking his role as the director in Shelby Township Oct. 14. While he said he will miss the community, this is a step toward one of his goals and closer to his home, as well.

“One of my goals had been to eventually run a larger, what they call a Class 6, library,” Parus said.

With his daughter having graduated high school and off at college, Parus said it was a good time to make a move to reach that goal of running a larger library, so he said he didn’t want to pass it up. 

Library science was a second career for Parus, who spent about 13 years in the savings and loan industry. Then, he worked in his hometown library in New Baltimore, where he served as assistant director before leaving for Harper Woods.

“It was too enticing of an opportunity at that time to pass up,” Parus said of his move to Harper Woods.

“It’s just a wonderful community,” Parus said, adding that the community wants to keep its library services at a high level.

While at Harper Woods, he served during a major transitional period. The library moved to a new building, and he worked through the survival millage campaign and has served during tough economic times. 

Those economic issues that many libraries are tackling will continue to be a concern in Harper Woods, as well.

“We’re trying to hold our own in the face of a number of issues,” Parus said.

A new director will have to tackle upcoming challenges. City Manager Randolph Skotarczyk is planning to stop by the Library Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 10 to talk about fiscal matters.

He said he appreciates all of the work and effort his staff has put in over the years to keep the library working in difficult times.

“I never would have thought that we would have led a staff through a 10-year downturn,” Parus said.

“I’m going to miss my staff for sure,” he said. “Almost all of the folks have been there (through) the building project. They’ve been with me through it all.”

He mentioned the library board members over the years, calling them “good people that made that building happen.”

While Parus will miss the community, community members will miss him, too.

“Dale Parus has been a great asset to Harper Woods,” Library Board President Michael VanDeMark said in an email. “He is highly organized, focused and has excellent financial acumen. Thanks to his foresight and vision, we now have an enviable facility in what he coined ‘Michigan’s first Green Library.’ He is highly regarded in the state library community, and it is quite appropriate that he has been selected to direct a larger operation. 

“He will be missed,” VanDeMark said. “In the State of Michigan, Library Boards have the responsibility of hiring directors, so that will be our immediate focus this autumn.”

Parus was planning to meet with a couple of board members last week to discuss the posting for a new director.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer April Lehmbeck at alehmbeck@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1043.