SOMERS, N.Y. - Andrew Farber is entering a new chapter in his book-based career.
After serving at the helm of the Somers Library for five-plus years, the 40-year-old bespectacled Ossining resident bid a fond adieu to its staff and patrons this week and headed off to his new gig in New Castle.
Starting next week, he will be the Chappaqua Library’s new chief, replacing Pamela Thornton, who retired in August.
Farber just happens to be the second director Chappaqua has lured away from Somers in recent years; Thornton was the first.
Thornton was Chappaqua’s director for more than 13 years. She had previously served at the Somers library for six.
Farber, however, is no stranger to Chappaqua’s stacks: His mom had worked at the library for more than 20 years, according to just-retired interim director Martha Alcott.
“We’re thrilled that he’s going to be here,” Alcott said of Farber.
Somers officials, not so much.
It was with “a heavy heart” that Supervisor Rick Morrissey announced Farber’s resignation on Thursday, Oct. 1.
Farber brought a lot to the table in terms of new programs, policies and community outreach, Town Board members said. He’s been professional and approachable—the latter quality being so important during these tough times, they said.
“I, for one, will miss him very much,” Morrissey said.
When Farber broke the news, he told Morrissey that it was a “career move” because the Chappaqua Library is larger and more “prestigious.”
“Then the shoe dropped; he’s getting a 25 percent increase in salary,” Morrissey told Town Board members, adding: “Right then and there I wished him Godspeed.”
Farber has promised to help Somers find a replacement and is actively participating in transition plans.
Councilman Rich Clinchy jokingly referred to Thornton’s previous departure, saying he felt as if Somers was “the farm system” for the Chappaqua Library.
“So this is the price we pay for being one of the lowest-taxed municipalities in the county,” Morrissey said. “We run operations on a shoestring and are very fiscally conservative.”
Farber, however, is the first to admit that a director is worthless without a good team.
While moving on is the right thing to do at this point in Farber’s life, it’s still wrenching to leave such a “wonderful” staff and faithful patrons.
“I’m sad to go, but I’m looking forward to new challenges,” he said.
Farber parlayed his “very expensive” degree in information science from the State University at Oswego into a successful IT career. Then the dot.com bubble burst in the late 1990s.
At the time, the Greenburgh Public Library was looking for a full-time computer-savvy employee. Not long after he landed the position, it occurred to Farber that with his problem-solving and research skills, he had a lot to offer.
Meanwhile, he fell in love with libraries.
Farber went on to head the library’s Young Adult Services Department while simultaneously earning his master’s in library science at City University at Queens.
When hiring Farber in 2015 to replace retiring director Pat Miller, the Somers Library Board of Trustees returned to its mission to “provide residents of all ages with informational, recreational and cultural resources and programs in a welcoming atmosphere conducive to learning and enjoyment.”
Farber, said then-board president Jim Hasl, “understands this mission well and possesses the experience, talent and character to lead our library into the future.”
Farber completed a course in the New York Library Association Leadership and Management Program. He also served on the Westchester Library System Directors Association Youth Services Advisory Committee and the WLS Technology Committee.
While at Somers, Farber created new partnerships with local businesses, schools and residents of Heritage Hills, noted Ronnie Diamondstein, vice president of the Chappaqua Library board.
“We are delighted to have Andrew join our staff,” she said. “He will be a great asset to our community.”
Asked to identify highlights in his Somers tenure, Farber said he’s particularly proud of the writing and art workshops, youth-oriented offerings such as the annual Story Walk and of building up the library’s program of lending non-traditional items such as knitting kits, cake pans, board games and musical instruments.
He also was a member of the team that created the first countywide “Battle of the Books” competition, a trivia tournament for youth.
The library had just expanded its hours when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing it and other community institutions to regroup.
While the library is open, its hours are limited and, Farber predicts, the upcoming budget will be “a challenge.”
But he’s confident that the staff and whoever steps into his shoes will be more than up to it.
“I’m extremely grateful for all the support from the town, the board of trustees, staff and the public,” Farber said, crediting their collaborative efforts for the library’s success. “It’s been a joy.”