Friday, June 18, 1999

School board
OKs librarian
for four years

State Librarian Virginia Lowell's
contract awaits a bill's approval

By Crystal Kua


State Librarian Virginia Lowell is looking forward to sleeping in her own bed after the Board of Education last night approved giving her a four-year contract.

The contract, the first of its kind for a state librarian, allows Lowell to be reimbursed for moving expenses, which means she can finally get her bed out of storage in New York where she moved from last August to accept her $85,000-a-year position here, she said.

"I would like to be able to set down roots," Lowell said after the contract approval.

Lowell was hired last year to replace Bart Kane, who was fired after 16 years as head of the Hawaii State Public Library System.

The contract won't be official until the governor signs a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year. The bill allows the board to enter into a contract with the state librarian for up to four years and removes the requirement that the librarian be a Hawaii resident. The governor is expected to sign the measure, Lowell said.

The state librarian is the only position at that level of state government without a contract or a four-year appointment, she said.

"It would create parity," Lowell said.

Board member Marilee Lyons, who heads the board's public libraries committees, said the decision to pursue getting Lowell a contract was a matter of fairness and equity. "This will give her peace of mind."

Besides job security, the contract also puts in writing the board's expectations, Lowell said. "It gives me guidelines and direction."

The contract would allow Lowell to be reimbursed for up to $16,000 of relocation costs. Lowell said that her moving expenses so far have totaled $8,000, but she has to submit an exact accounting to the board for approval.

The board last year approved about $30,000 in moving expenses for Superintendent Paul LeMahieu's move from Delaware.

Lowell said the reason some of her belongings have remained in storage in New York is partly due to money but also because her life has been in limbo without a contract.

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