The system’s board of trustees chose Hickman from a field of three finalists Thursday after a lengthy and nationwide search.
Chairwoman Margaret Davis said Hickman has been tried by fire since she stepped into the position following the retirement of Susan Cooley.
“Our air conditioner went out, then we had another budget cut almost as soon as she took over,” Davis said. “It’s been one thing after another, but Delana handled it with such grace, such calm.”
Hickman said she has some ideas for improving library services, but she’s not ready to talk about them yet.
“I’m just excited,” she said. “We have such a great staff, a great library, a great community. This is an exciting time for me.”
Her selection was the first order of business during the board’s monthly meeting. Later in the session, Hickman spoke of the success of a Halloween program aimed at teens — a notably “difficult group to get into the library,” she said.
“That’s one of the things we’d like to focus on in the coming year,” she told the board.
Rome City Commissioner Bill Irmscher, the city’s representative on the board, said a number of his constituents told
him they supported Hickman over the other candidates.
“I think she’s an excellent choice,” he said. “Someone local who’s shown she can work under budget constraints and keep people happy.”
Before the vote, Davis read a letter from Ruth Forrester, co-president of the Friends of the Library Board, who said Hickman faced challenges when she took on the interim job but managed to continue all the programs and services to patrons.
“She has done this while fostering a feeling of teamwork with all library branches, staff and volunteers,” Forrester wrote. “She has forged everyone into a cohesive unit.”
Hickman’s annual salary will be “approximately $71,000,” Davis said, with more than $53,000 being paid by the state. Georgia public libraries are part of the University System of Georgia.
The Sara Hightower Regional Library System based in Rome also has branches located in Cave Spring, Cedartown and Rockmart.