Library Executive Director William Harmer. / File photo
William Harmer, executvei director of the Westport Library’ / File photo

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — William Harmer, the Westport Library’s executive director, is once again one of the top-paid officials in town.

In fiscal year 2022-23 (July through June), he earned $252,394, according to the library’s 990 form filed with the IRS.

That’s more than the first selectwoman, the police chief and the fire chief.

But Harmer, strictly speaking, isn’t a town official. The library is governed by the Westport Library Association, a nonprofit organization. But it is about 80 percent funded by the town, and half of its 20-member board is appointed by the Representative Town Meeting.

Total compensation paid to library employees, according to amounts from IRS documents, follows:

  • Executive Director William Harmer, $252,394
  • Chief of Staff Melanie Myers, $174,607
  • Video Producer David Bibbey, $138,113
  • Director of Youth Services Mary Parmalee, $131,892
  • Associate Director for Program Alex Gianni, $127,509
  • Librarian Lynn Perrigo, $119,417
  • Director of Finance and Human Resources Kishore Solanki, $12,222 (Harmer said she left during the year to pursue other opportunities.)

In an email to the Westport Journal, Harmer touched on the library’s mission, financial transparency and community impact.

“The Westport Library plays a vital role in our community, thanks to a unique public-private partnership. While municipal support is crucial, covering 78.79 percent of our total operating budget, the remaining 21.21 percent, equivalent to $1.3 million, is sourced through various fundraising endeavors,” he wrote. “These include our annual appeal, signature fundraisers like BOOKED for the evening, and revenue from commercial operations such as our café, store, and the commercial use of our spaces. These contributions are instrumental in supporting the enriching programming, collections, digital resources, and innovative offerings that define our library. Our community of donors and supporters’ faith in our mission and dedication to our cause are the cornerstones of our achievements.”

 “It’s important to note that the Westport Library operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association, independent of any single organization or entity. Governed by an independent 20-member Board of Trustees, with 10 members appointed by the Representative Town Meeting, we prioritize transparency in our operations. The salaries of our top employees are publicly available through our IRS Form 990 filing, accessible on our website alongside our Annual Report.

“In terms of our mission and community impact, the Library serves as a cornerstone of lifelong learning, catering to diverse age groups and demographics. From students to seniors, young families to professionals, we offer inclusive and accessible educational opportunities,” Harmer continued. “Our extensive range of services includes literacy tutoring, support for jobseekers, co-working spaces, community university-style classes, and facilitation of high-quality media production. We are committed to fostering connections, public discourse, and engagement with Town leaders, serving as a unifying hub for dialogue and community cohesion.”

“For a detailed overview of our contributions and financial breakdown, I encourage readers to review the Library’s 2024-25 budget proposal, available here. The narrative section and metrics provided demonstrate the Library’s value and return on investment to the community, underscoring our commitment to lifelong learning and community engagement. Of note: The Library had 350,000 visitors last calendar year, and hosts more than 1,000 free programs, bringing together a remarkable 85,000-plus individuals — three times our town’s population. And as outlined in our Annual Report, and per the American Library Association value calculator, the $4.7 million town appropriation delivers a $20.5 million value to Westport community, a remarkable return on investment by any measure.

“The Westport Library remains steadfast in its dedication to serving the educational needs of our community members across all stages of life,” Harmer wrote. “Our transformative journey positions us as a dynamic learning hub, continuously adapting to meet the evolving needs of our residents.”

Read here about the top town-side earners, and the top school district earners.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 36 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.