K.C. Williams talks with Tre Hargett (2021)

Blount County Public Library Director K.C. Williams (left) talks with Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett in this file photo from 2017. Williams handed in her resignation at the end of April.

Blount County Public Library Director K.C. Williams handed in her resignation letter less than a week before the library’s board of trustees was set to approve an employee survey meant in part to assess her performance.

Williams intends to serve as director until May 28 and then vacate the role, according to the letter, which she sent to the board and to The Daily Times.

It was dated April 30.

Williams said she was “excited about pursuing other career options” and appreciated “the opportunity to lead this wonderful library.”

She attached 11 pages — nearly 150 bullet points — of information about her work since she took the position in January 2014, emphasizing successful implementation of new programs and growth of services.

“I have steered the library through some very difficult times over the past seven years and have invested a great deal of time and effort into expanding the library’s service capacity across Blount County in support of building a sustainable community,” Williams wrote.

Board Chair Andy Simon told The Daily Times by phone Monday he had accepted Williams’ resignation that morning. But it also will come to the board for a vote Thursday during a called meeting at 5:30 p.m.

That meeting originally was intended to approve a new, library-specific “Culture Survey,” created to help staff assess how they felt about library operations and leadership, especially with upcoming changes following post-COVID-19 restructuring, many engineered by Williams.

Simon explained Monday that board members recently decided they wanted something other than the “County Government Performance Evaluation Process Checklist,” — a Blount County performance evaluation tool — for library staff to fill out, providing feedback on their views of the library as an institution and a workplace.

The three-page survey requests feedback on the library director’s performance specifically in seven different areas.

Simon said there are still plans to use this survey, despite Williams’ departure, which he noted was unexpected.

The next step, he said, will be to decide on an interim director and then gather a search committee to find a new director.

Williams’ resignation comes during a time when BCPL lost about 10 employees — some retired, some let go — during restructuring after COVID-19 fiscal shakeups and program alterations.

One of these changes seeks to make all staff positions full time.

Others change the way finances and programs are managed as the library moves to one day return to its pre-COVID standard of nearly 70 operational hours a week: It’s currently open just under 60.

It shaved off nearly 13 hours of operation to adapt to pandemic restrictions, but — unlike many libraries across the U.S. — never completely shut down services during the pandemic.

“I have overseen three major staff restructuring efforts during my tenure as director,” Williams noted in her letter. “It is my hope that the library will recover quickly from the restrictions placed on it by the pandemic and move forward to continue on to become a true cornerstone of the Blount County community.”

BCPL is funded by Blount County, the city of Maryville and the city of Alcoa.

Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

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