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A PAGE IS TURNED IN LOCAL HISTORY AS FIRST WOMAN TAKES THE HELM

Diane J. Chrisman has already proved she has what it takes to be the new director of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

Now she can do it permanently.

Chrisman, who has been serving in an interim capacity for the past year, begins her new job immediately. She is the first woman to lead the library since its formation more than 163 years ago.

"We had a long process here in coming to this decision," said Rebecca L. Mahoney, chairwoman of the library's board. "I think we have served the community well."

Chrisman had unanimous support from the trustees.

"I think we did a lot of good work this year," the new director told her board, adding that she looked forward to "working together in the service of our community."

In remarks after the meeting, she said her most important immediate task will be a series of upcoming public hearings on the library's proposed strategic plan.

"It's the most intensive effort we've ever made to get the response of the public," she said.

The hearings will begin Jan. 12 and run through May 9.

Chrisman succeeds Daniel L. Walters, who stepped down last year to head the county library system in Las Vegas.

Chrisman, 62, is an Orchard Park resident and Western New York native. She has been the library's coordinator of work with children, and has held management positions in the library's Order Department, Young Adult Department and Branch Division.

Chrisman begins her tenure at a critical time for the library, which has an annual operating budget of $30 million. Its 52 branches have just completely computerized their operations.

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