Diana Watkins, who will assume the post of director of the Texas County Library system.

The Texas County Library will have a new director beginning next week.

Diana Watkins, who has several years of experience working with Mid-Continent Public Library in Kansas City, will replace Audrey Barnhart, who is retiring.

Watkins, who has a master’s degree in library science, will oversee branches at Houston, Cabool, Licking and Summersville. Mid-Continent Public Library is the largest library system in the Kansas City metropolitan area, operating 33 libraries and serving more than 750,000 people in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties.

Barnhart, who will retire Oct. 18, will continue overseeing accounting and budgeting matters. She assumed in the post in November 2008. Under Barnhart’s leadership, the library system most recently opened a new facility at Summersville and obtained many grants that aided in improvements with facilities and equipment. The library also expanded into the digital space, allowing patrons to download books to electronic devices. She also oversaw facility improvements at the Houston and Licking library branches. On the drawing board is an expansion of the library at Cabool that would more than double the size of the building. The Texas County Foundation met recently to review architectural drawings.

A reception for both ladies is planned from 10 a.m. – noon Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Houston branch.

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