This letter is a recommendation for Mr. Larry Frank, who served as Senior Director of the Knox County Library for the past seven years. During his tenure, the Knox County Library System has not only thrived but it also has been transformed. While the Library usage statistics are remarkable, the entire region has benefited from the progressive programs and outreach activities the Library has offered.
The statistics present a positive story as follows:
• An increase in Library card holders from 98,721 in 2003 to 152,922 in 2010 (55 percent increase)
• System-wide circulation growing from 2,121,440 in 2003 to 2,672,142 in 2010 (26 percent increase)
• Public computers available up from 138 in 2003 to 254 in 2009 (84 percent increase)
• Patron computer usage up from 214,396 visits in 2003 to 402,766 in 2010 (88 percent increase)
• Participants who completed the Summer Reading Club up from 4,183 in 2004 to 9,558 in 2010 (129 percent increase)
Prior to Mr. Frank's tenure, the Knox County Public Library had a solid collection, but offered little in programming and outreach. His focus on communication and programming raised the profile of the library considerably. Under his leadership, the Library initiated large-scale community events such as the Children's Festival of Reading, a very popular outdoor weekend movie series, the Knoxville Jazz Festival, and The Big Read. Each of these events were made successful by forging partnerships with other community organizations including the University of Tennessee, Knox County Schools, YWCA, the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership, and numerous corporate sponsors. These partnerships helped extend the reach and resources of the Library. In addition to these programs and special events, he worked closely with the Friends of the Library organization to increase volunteer support. He also helped start a Library Foundation.
One of the best success stories of his leadership was the administration of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Knox County Public Library partnered with community leaders to offer free books in the mail to all eligible children under the age of five. This program has been hailed as a model for its high penetration rate within the county. It has been recognized by the Governor of Tennessee as well as the Dollywood Foundation for its excellence.
Mr. Frank also placed a focus on updating the Library's technology infrastructure. He nearly doubled the number of public access computers and increased the online offering of numerous resources. During tough economic times for all local governments, he was able to maintain quality services on an ever-tightening budget. Mr. Frank's management style is empowering. He allows his employees room to succeed and grow while always encouraging creative approaches. He would be an asset to any library system that is open to innovation and change. As his direct supervisor, it is without reservation that I give him the highest recommendation as a creative and progressive Library Director.
Chief of Staff (2002 – 2010),
Knox County Mayor's Office