The Seattle Public Library board of trustees on Tuesday named Marcellus Turner as its choice to be the city's new top librarian.

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The Seattle Public Library board of trustees on Tuesday named Marcellus Turner as its choice to be the city’s new top librarian.

Turner, the executive director of the Jefferson County Public Library in Lakewood, Colo., will oversee Seattle’s main library and 26 branch libraries.

“We feel that he’s our guy,” said Marie McCaffrey, the library board president. “He’s the right one for us, and he can take our library where it needs to go.”

Turner’s salary will be $150,000 a year, McCaffrey said. Seattle’s departing city librarian, Susan Hildreth, got $171,000 a year, according to library spokeswoman Andra Addison.

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Addison said Turner is expected to start his new job in mid-August.

Turner, who worked for the Tacoma Public Library as a departmental supervisor from 1997 to 2000, said in a phone interview that he’s excited about returning to Washington. He was attracted to the Seattle library system, he said, because of its reputation in public service and its location in a community that loves libraries. He has viewed being a librarian as a way to promote education, literacy and personal growth since the fourth grade, when he worked in a library at school.

“I’m really excited to come to the Seattle Public Library to continue this great service, tradition and legacy,” he said.

As city librarian, Turner will oversee a $50 million budget and 640 employees, according to a library news release.

Turner has been with the library system in Colorado since 2002, according to a news release from Jefferson County. As executive director, a job he’s held since 2008, he oversees day-to-day operations of the library’s 10 locations and its Bookmobile.

Before joining the Jefferson County Public Library, he was assistant executive director of the Rockford Public Library in Rockford, Ill., and worked at the Atlantic City Free Public Library in Atlantic City, N.J. He is active in the American Library Association and holds a master’s degree in library science from the University of Tennessee.

Turner was chosen from among three finalists. The others were Charles Brown, director of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library of Charlotte, N.C., and Nancy Ledeboer, director of the Pima County Public Library in Tucson, Ariz.

President Obama last fall tapped Hildreth, the previous Seattle city librarian, to head the Institute for Museum and Library Services in Washington, D.C. She started work in January.

Hildreth had succeeded Deborah L. Jacobs, who left in 2008 to head global libraries for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or

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