The board of the Mid-Columbia Library District plans to meet in executive session this afternoon to consider who to hire as executive director.
A special meeting is scheduled at 4 p.m. at the Keewaydin branch, 405 S. Dayton St. in Kennewick, to review the qualifications of three finalists.
The discussion is closed to the public, though under the state Open Meetings Act, the final choice must be made at a public session. Today's agenda does not show if the board plans to take a vote on hiring someone.
The position pays about $104,000 a year.
One finalist is Kyle Cox, who has been the interim director for 18 months after the May 2010 termination of former director Danielle Krol.
Celina Bishop, the library district's personnel manager, said a nationwide search produced eight applicants, including Cox. A committee of three board members reviewed the candidates, winnowing the list to three finalists.
Bishop said the board may announce a finalist's name after today's meeting.
The Mid-Columbia Libraries has 140 employees, a budget of $8.3 million for 2012 and 11 branches in communities in Benton, Franklin and Adams counties.
The board committee interviewed the finalists, who then were re-interviewed by other panels with other members of the library board and members of the library district's executive staff.
All of the interviews were done confidentially, and, except for Cox, the names of the applicants have not been made public.
Bishop said state law allows job applicant names to remain confidential. She said confidentiality is important if the applicant has not informed a current employer about seeking a job elsewhere.
Jerry Hug, a library board member who served on the candidate search committee and reviewed all the applications, said the interview process was set up so all board members could participate at various stages.
But at no time were all board members together to interview or discuss the candidates. That would have represented a quorum of the board and required a special board meeting, said Hug, who is the Herald's finance director.
Bishop said even after the executive director position is filled, the names of the other applicants will not be revealed.
Tim Ford, ombudsman for the Washington State Attorney General's Office, agreed that state law allows public agencies to keep secret the names of applicants for public employment, but he believes it should be changed, especially for top management jobs.
Ford said the state's Sunshine Committee is expected to recommend to the Legislature next year that the practice of keeping applicant names quiet be changed.
The committee, formally known as the Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee, was created by state law in July 2007 to suggest changes to the Public Records Act.