Local library director says goodbye to Valley for top position in Baltimore

In her five years with the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Heidi Daniel passed a levy, built new libraries, and started innovative new services

Heidi Daniel, executive director of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, is leaving for a top position in Baltimore.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The woman who’s spent the last five years running the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County is leaving to take her dream job in Baltimore, Maryland at one of the most prestigious library systems in the country.

Heidi Daniel has been PLYMC’s executive director since 2012 and will leave the position in mid-July. In Baltimore Friday morning, she was introduced as the new president and CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

“I have to say, I’m just so overwhelmed with emotion this morning and so honored to be here,” she said at the ceremony. “Thank you so much for inviting me here to lead this organization. It’s such an honor.”

The position at the Pratt Library opened up when the previous director left to become the Librarian of Congress.

Daniel, seeing an opportunity to run one of America’s leading libraries, applied and got the job.

“Heidi Daniel has the perfect combination of vision and talent to lead the Pratt into the changing library world. She has a wealth of experience in meeting the challenges and opportunities of urban libraries,” said Enoch Pratt Board Chair Pat Lasher.

Her new position is to the library world what managing the Yankees is to the world of Major League Baseball.

“It’s one of the first free libraries in the country. It has a long, storied history,” Daniel said over the phone Friday afternoon.

She had become the face of the Mahoning County’s libraries. Her caricature was even part of the commercials.

In her five years, she passed a levy, built new libraries in North Jackson and Canfield, started one on Youngstown’s west side, and remodeled Boardman’s.

“I loved being the executive director of the Youngstown and Mahoning County Public Library. I’ve loved being part of the community.”

Daniel started innovative new services, such as fine-free cards tailored to kids and teens, a Pop-Up Library service in schools and at off-site locations, and the circulation of mobile wi-fi hotspots.

She said she’s proud of what she accomplished here. The libraries are financially solid and the buildings are in good shape.

Daniel was also honored as the 2015 Ohio Librarian of the Year.

“I think whoever takes over the library system after me is inheriting a great system that is in great shape,” Daniel said.

PLYMC Board President Dr. David Ritchie said the change is a bittersweet moment for the Library’s board, issuing the following statement:

Five years ago, during the search for a new library director, we recognized the tremendous potential in Heidi Daniel. The past five years have shown us that we made the right decision. We have seen Heidi Daniel in action as a dynamic, professional, trend-setting library director who enriched our community and created momentum that will continue to move this library system forward for years to come … As much as we would like to hold onto her, we are thrilled to see her advance in this way.”

Daniel starts in Baltimore in early August.

The search for Daniel’s replacement begins Monday. PLYMC will place ads locally and nationally, hoping to have someone in place before she leaves this summer.


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