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Carnegie Free Library's executive director steps down

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 11:55 a.m.
Lois Wholey

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall is looking for another new executive director.

Lois Wholey, the library's sole executive director since March 2012, resigned at the board of trustees meeting Jan. 9 in order to take a job as development director for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

The library formed a search committee shortly thereafter to find Wholey's replacement.

“Hopefully we'll be able to find someone in short order,” said Chris Brussalis, president of the library's board of trustees.

Wholey's departure marks the third by the library's executive director in the past 18 months. Maggie Forbes, who became executive director in 2005 and raised $7.5 million to help restore and renovate the library and music hall, retired in October 2011. Her successor, Diane Klinefelter, retired in March 2012 and now works part-time at the Scott Township Library.

Brussalis said Wholey approached him recently about the offer from the Ballet Theatre, and he urged her to take the job because of the opportunity it presented.

“It's a world-class organization,” Brussalis said.

The executive director at Carnegie Free Library oversees fundraising for restoration and renovations at the library and music hall, which opened in May 1901.

That has been a more difficult job in recent years, as the recession slowed donations at local arts organizations. But Brussalis said Wholey helped to raise more than $200,000 in the last few months of 2012.

“She was phenomenal, and we knew she'd be phenomenal,” Brussalis said. “Talent like that doesn't go unnoticed.”

The past year also saw strained relations between the borough and its library.

Carnegie Borough Council stopped making its monthly payments to the library in April 2012, placing the money in escrow instead. The payments resumed after three months because officials worried the library would start cutting programs, council President Rick D'Loss said.

“For well over a year, we have been concerned with the financial situation of the library,” D'Loss said.

Until a replacement for Wholey is found, Brussalis said the board will help seek donations. Library director Erin Tipping and event coordinator Lynne Cochran also will assume some of Wholey's responsibilities, such as reaching out for donations and sending thank-you notes to contributors.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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