Claire Miller

The Washington Public Library has a new librarian.

After a lengthy search, Claire Miller was chosen out of a field of 13 applicants.

“She was the best candidate we felt to lead the library forward in the direction that we think it needs to go,” said Leon Hove, library board president.

Miller, a 2002 graduate of Sullivan High School, will assume her new duties Monday, April 17.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Hannibal-LaGrange University and her Master of Library and Information Science from Oklahoma University.

“I’m looking forward to (the job),” Miller told The Missourian. “I’m excited and think that things can only get better from now.”

Miller has spent the last six years working with the East Central Library System in Arkansas. She served as an assistant director and managed two branches.

Being named the Washington library director is a career advancement, she said. An added bonus, she said, is being only 40 minutes from her family.

“It brings me back to home base,” she said.

Hove said Miller has a lot of experience and shares a similar vision as the library board. He said Miller is already implementing programs in Arkansas that she would like to start in Washington.

“She feels like we do, that the library should be an asset to the community,” Hove said.

For her interview, Miller came to Washington to meet with the library board. She said it wasn’t her first visit to the city or Downtown Washington, but she really likes the area around the library and enjoyed the food here.

Miller said she’s a big fan of the library building itself.

“It’s very beautiful,” she said. “I’m very proud to call it my library.”

Miller’s selection does not require city council approval. While she will be a city employee, the library board is responsible for hiring the candidate.

The Washington library has been operating without a head librarian since Jackie Hawes resigned this past November.

Hawes took over as Washington’s librarian Oct. 1, 2013. She replaced the retiring Nell Redhage.

Hawes was the city’s sixth librarian. Names and approximate dates of past librarians include Paula Hoffmann, 1929-38; Velma Jones Stroetker, 1938-81; Carolyn Witt, June 1981-November 2005; Sara Nielsen, 2006-07; Nell Redhage, 2008-13; and Hawes, 2013-16.