John Keister & Associates

Executive Search for Libraries

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Customer Comments

We enjoy working with libraries because they are the heart and soul of their communities. Whether serving a small town, a densely populated region, or an academic or special-interest institution, a library represents the interests, passions and goals of a special group of people — its users. Every library is unique. We customize each search we undertake to ensure that each library we work with hires the Director who is right for them and right for their community.

We are proactive in searching for and recruiting top candidates throughout the United States. Our success is the result of networking and actively building long-term relationships with the best and brightest library leaders.

How do we know we’ve been successful? It’s when our customers are happy.

Below are comments that we have received acknowledging our work. We have excluded identifying information due to privacy considerations, but will be happy to provide this information upon request.

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President, Board of Trustees
Public Library serving 26,000 residents with a 54,000 sq. ft. building, budget of $2.1 million

“I believe we connected from the start. Your genuine passion and love for finding the right fit for each individual library/client was apparent.

It was your unique boutique approach that appealed to our board as well as your enthusiasm. We also appreciated that you had actually served on a library board. We were not just another cog in the system to your firm. It was apparent that we both truly wanted to find the ideal fit for our library’s continued success and were committed to the process of finding our true north.

We are most impressed with our new Executive Director. The board is very satisfied, our administrative staff and other staff members are much happier and our future looks bright. The atmosphere and morale in our library has made a much-needed turn around. We thank you for your tenacity and stick-to-itiveness in completing the job you started until it was not just done, but done well. It was a process that we hope we will not have to repeat for some time. But, if we ever needed to search again, we would not hesitate to call you and your firm.

The Board of Trustees extends our deepest gratitude to you and your firm for above and beyond service to our library and community. We believe you got the sense of who we truly are and what we needed from the start. There was much to process and sift along the way and you were committed to us. We thank you for believing in our board and our staff and for championing us when needed. We have an amazing library for a community of our size but our great potential had stagnated. With your guidance, we now have an outstanding Executive Director to take us in the direction we want and need to go. Our future has been rejuvenated. “

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President, Board of Trustees
Public Library serving 48,000 residents with a 55,000 sq. ft. building, budget of $2.2 million.

“Our first contacts with you were extremely positive and confirmed for the board that you were a good fit for us. You showed enthusiasm for our library and our community, and you made it clear to us that you were eager to work with us on this search.

We were looking for a bold and creative leader more than a competent manager. You understood this and designed a search process that identified leadership and networking skills. There were doubtless a lot of things that you did on the back end that we never saw, but what we did see pleased us. For example, the website that you created to advertise the Director position was very professional. There were important instances when you gave us excellent advice.

Everyone I've spoken to (including board members, library staff, members of the Friends and Foundation, and people in city government) agrees that the three finalists we did bring to the library were by far the most impressive group we could remember from a Director search. The candidate we hired has been wonderful, and we are extremely pleased to have him at our library. He is providing us with the kind of creative leadership and community outreach that we wanted all along in our new Director.“

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President, Board of Trustees
Public Library serving 90,000 residents through four full-service locations, budget of $8.3 million.

“We knew we had an outstanding directorship opportunity to offer to someone but we wanted not only someone well-qualified, but someone that would "fit" with the personality of our system and community and the vision our Board had for the system's future.  We also believed that finding the right person would be much more likely if we had the right search firm to assist us.  There were lots of choices, from big national firms specializing in library director searches to small but locally well-connected firms.

After carefully considering proposals from a number of candidates, the Board chose to work with John Keister & Associates.  It was clear from its proposal that John and his associates had the necessary experience and that they had given our particular situation considerable thought.

I can wholeheartedly recommend John Keister & Associates to any library board in need of assistance in the selection of a director or other upper-level management.  He took the time to understand our particular needs, he listened carefully to what we had to say about how the search process should work and what we wanted in a director candidate, his thoroughness allowed him to quickly gain our trust and in the end his efforts put us exactly where we wanted to be -- in a room with multiple, well-qualified candidates from which we could choose the one that best "fit" the directorship opportunity we had to offer.”

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President, Board of Trustees
Public Library District serving more than 66,000 residents with a 58,000 sq. ft. building, budget of $7 million.

“In our unique situation, I would not have wanted to select anyone that did not acknowledge full-on that we would have a problem attracting candidates. You said that and also insisted that any candidate be told the full story so that we would not be ambushing anyone by keeping our situation a secret. This was not only practical, but also an issue of integrity, in my view.

Your style is informal and laid back. You use humor to make a point. The processes you use, though, are not laid back. They are organized, well-thought out, and professional. You tried to get us to articulate the characteristics that we wanted rather than telling us the typical list.

You back up your process with a lot of experience both as a trustee and a search consultant. Your knowledge of libraries and directors is quite impressive. And so is your love of libraries. What a great bonus!”


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President, Board of Trustees
Public Library serving over 79,000 residents with a 51,000 sq ft. building, budget of $5.3 million.

“We were very happy with Keister & Associates. I was very surprised at how quickly you came up with 4 finalists.  Having worked with a national firm 10 years ago I was expecting the same huge cattle call of candidates that the search committee would have to sort through. When you presented 4 finalists in 3 months time I realized that you had done the weeding process and consequently handled the search process much more efficiently than the previous search firm we used.  What pleased me the most was your customized search process.  I felt that the candidates were all good matches for the community and the library. The customized search process condensed the search process considerably because the board did not have to engage in the weeding out process but only the selection process.

I would recommend your firm and in fact already have. I felt that you delivered the services that you stated that you would and in the way that you stated they would be delivered. I felt that your customized search process was very effect both in use of time and in identifying the best candidates. 

Thank you for your hard work. It was a pleasure working with you.”

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President, Executive Board
Library Consortium of 77 public libraries

“I’m very satisfied with your process, service and responsiveness. We were most pleased with your responses to questions, willingness to listen, and to learn about us.  There were no preconceived notions on your part. Your council on how to proceed, salary range and the interview process were on the mark. The interview day proved to be a rousing success. We really got to understand each of the candidates and were able to make an outstanding choice.

I would recommend your firm without reservation. You were dedicated to providing the best possible service and most of all your process was successful. We have the right person as our Executive Director.”


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