COLUMBUS — Columbus Public Library Director Drew Brookhart is leaving his position to return to Colorado.
Brookhart, who has led the local library since December 2014, announced his resignation Wednesday. He’ll leave the position Oct. 1 to become director of the Gunnison County Library District back in his home state of Colorado.
“With young children the benefits of being close to family have become crystal clear,” he wrote in an email to Mayor Jim Bulkley and Columbus City Council members. “The position also offers considerable opportunity for professional growth.”
Brookhart, who earned degrees from the University of Colorado and University of Denver, was working as a librarian in Aspen, Colorado, when he was selected to take over as the library director here after Jill Owens left the position.
In his resignation letter, Brookhart thanked the library and library foundation boards, city officials and staff and volunteers for their support over the past two-plus years.
“I have a deep appreciation for the support I have received from the Columbus community,” he wrote. “I am more than grateful for the many opportunities I have had to grow both personally and professionally.”
“The Columbus Public Library Board contributes a level of community engagement for the library that is profound,” he continued. “The dedication, kindness, caring, and enthusiasm of the Columbus Public Library staff is unmatched.”
Brookhart, who was 31 at the time of his hiring, pledged to assist in the transition process at the local library.
Attempts to reach him Thursday and Friday for comment were unsuccessful.
Bulkley said he was surprised when Brookhart called him Wednesday afternoon with the announcement.
“I was disappointed to hear this news, but upon learning more about the opportunities that Drew has in front of him I was happy for him and his family,” the mayor said Friday in an email.
“In the short time that Drew has been library director he has brought a professional style to that position,” Bulkley added. “He has been a great coordinator in working to pull together the necessary parts and pieces that will eventually lead to a new library/cultural arts center.”
Fulfilling that vision will be a major task for the next library director.
Columbus residents voted 1,768 to 1,517 in April against issuing up to $8.5 million in bonds to pay for a roughly 45,000-square-foot library/cultural arts center along 14th Street between 23rd and 24th avenues.
However, the project is far from dead.
Library officials plan to gather more public input, continue raising money and potentially make some design changes to increase public support for the facility before a second bond vote is scheduled.
The rejected plan had an estimated price tag of $16 million, but the goal is to cover at least half the construction costs with private donations, grants and library foundation money. So far, the private fundraising effort led by the library foundation has secured approximately $5.3 million.
The bonds would have been repaid with revenue from the half-cent local sales tax voters already extended in May 2016.