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Who Will Lead The Ga. Center For The Book?

Bill Starr retired as director a few months ago. The DeKalb County Library System is looking for somebody to run the organization that brings nationally known authors to speak at the Decatur Library and other local venues.

The Georgia Center for the Book, which helped establish Decatur's reputation as a literary town, is looking for a new leader. 

Bill Starr recently retired and moved to New Hampshire after serving as executive director for 10 years.

Starr was in charge when the Center for the Book began scheduling more than 100 yearly appearances by writers, some with national reputations. For example, The Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini will speak Thursday at the Decatur First Baptist Church.

More than 200 people applied for the job, said Alison Weissinger, DeKalb County library director. She hopes to fill the position by the end of July.

The Georgia Center for the Book, which operates out of a third-floor office in the Decatur Library, is the state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congresss, but it's funded mostly by DeKalb County and donations.

It promotes libraries and literacy across Georgia, organizes literary festivals and student writing competitions and co-sponsors state literary awards,  the Townsend Prize and the Lillian Smith Award.

The Center for the Book also helped start the Decatur Book Festival, held on Labor Day weekend.

The executive director's job is a DeKalb County position that will pay $46,000-$74,000 per year, Weissinger said.

Weissinger said she'll make the final decision on the hire but will be advised by a panel that includes DeKalb County Parks Director Roy Wilson and two members of the Center's advisory council: Georgia Public Library Service Communications Director David Baker and Lenz Marketing President Richard Lenz.

Until the new executive director is hired, the Center for the Book will be supervised by GCB assistant Joe Davich.

Some of the well-known authors and book-promoting celebrities brought to Decatur by the Center for the book include Pat Conroy, Anne Lamott, E.L. Doctorow, Barbara Walters, Stuart Woods, Terry Kay, Carl Hiaasen and Amy Sedaris.

Most writers appear in the Decatur Library auditorium, but the big names draw crowds that can only be accommodated at larger venues such as the Baptist Church or the Agnes Scott College auditorium.

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