Press release from Buncombe County Government:
After announcing her retirement earlier this year, Buncombe County’s current Library Director Gigi Francis is retiring effective Nov. 1. A national search was conducted for a new Library Director, and after a detailed interview process, the County is pleased to announce the selection of Jim Blanton for Library Director.
The County surveyed staff and the community for characteristics they wanted in a Library Director. 22 applicants were selected for interviews out of 72 applications for the position. The Buncombe County Library Advisory Board along with County staff conducted interviews and chose Blanton for the position.
Blanton served most recently as Library Director for the Louisville Free Public Library in Louisville, Kentucky. “Jim Blanton will be an excellent leader for our strong Buncombe County Library system and our outstanding staff,” notes Assistant County Manager Jim Holland. “Jim’s passion for libraries was evident to the interview team and demonstrated in his leadership in Louisville. His depth of experience in program development as well as his strong commitment to serving the needs of the public will assure that our library system achieves the highest standards of service.” Blanton is scheduled to start on Nov. 13 and will direct the operations of the Main Library and 12 branches.
Born and raised in Lexington, KY, he possesses more than 20 years of library experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and a Master of Library Science from the University of Kentucky, and a Master of Public Administration from Old Dominion University. Upon graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2000 with an M.L.S., he went to work for the Chesapeake Public Library in Chesapeake, Virginia. While in Chesapeake, he served in a variety of roles including Senior Library Manager. He cultivated a reputation for innovative programming and was a recipient of the Virginia Public Library Director’s award for adult and young adult programming. He was also named by Library Journal as a 2012 Mover and Shaker for his work on a financial literacy video game.
“The twenty-first century library is the community hub for lifelong learning and engagement,” notes Blanton. “In my visits to Buncombe County, I’ve experienced a community with a vibrant, diverse culture and strong sense of identity, and the library is well positioned to tap into this fantastic energy. Coming from a background focused on innovation, I’m excited by the opportunity to explore new programs, services, and partnerships geared toward realizing the full potential of what the library can be.”