COVINGTON -- Greg Heid, director of the Newton County Library System, is stepping down after 13 years. Heid has accepted a position leading the Des Moines, Iowa, public library system.
"After 13 years here, I had the choice of making one more career move or staying here for the remainder of my professional career, because I have 10 more years until retirement. I thought, 'Let's look around the United States,' and when that position came open I thought it might be a very nice position because of the proximity to my family in Minneapolis, Minn. It's closer to my aging parents," Heid said.
Heid will be in charge of six public libraries, the largest of which is 212,000 square feet, and a virtual library. Heid said he was impressed by the library system in Des Moines.
The system has been nationally recognized for several years and has an extremely high percentage of library card holders at around 90 percent of the city's population, he said. Heid was also impressed with the cultural amenities of the city and the fact that it is a top destination for businesses to locate.
Heid beat out four other candidates for the job. He says he intends to stay in Newton County until the new branch library in the Oak Hill area opens in January. His replacement will be selected by the Library Board of Trustees following a public advertisement and interview process.
Heid worked for the state library system as construction and technology consultant and allocated a $2 million grant for the construction of the current Covington branch library. He was so impressed with the community that he accepted a position as assistant library director and nine months later, took over as director.
During Heid's tenure, the Newton County Library System saw a 199 percent increase in items checked out and a 165 percent increase in patrons. It was ranked the top library system in the state for fiscal year 2009. In addition to the new branch library, a service outlet in Newborn was opened and deposit collector sites were expanded from three to nine and jail services were expanded.
"It's been incredible, the way the public has responded to the library service. The library staff here has been an incredible team. To be ranked as the number one state library system at our size is a major accomplishment. I think it's due to the efforts of the staff. I have a talented, dedicated team of people and that really shows," he said.
Heid has a bachelor's degree in media communications theory, marketing and advertising and a master's degree in library science with a minor in business administration from the University of Minnesota. He has served in numerous roles with several library systems, including assistant director of all public services of the 30 branches of the Atlanta-Fulton County Central Library System. He oversaw the merger of the Atlanta and Fulton County library systems.