The job of leading the Hennepin County Library system has been narrowed to two women, one from inside the system, the other from Nebraska.

The Hennepin County Library Board will interview Lois Langer Thompson, interim director of Hennepin libraries, and Rivkah Sass, director of the Omaha Public Library, on Wednesday evening.

It will recommend to county Administrator Richard Johnson who should get the job, though that may not happen this week. The County Board must approve the appointment.

In a statement, Johnson said both finalists have experience working in large library systems and in difficult economic times.

"I look forward to bringing the most qualified finalist on board and working with her to develop a strategic fiscal plan that will ensure all county residents have excellent library services," he said.

Thompson has been with Hennepin libraries for over 20 years, working in branch libraries as well as management positions, including deputy library director and division manager.

Sass was named Library Journal's 2006 Librarian of the Year for her work on revitalizing libraries in Omaha at a time when finances were challenging. She also has worked in libraries in Washington state and Oregon. Last fall, she was a finalist for the job leading Seattle's libraries.

The new director will replace Amy Ryan, who became president of Boston Public Library.

After its merger with Minneapolis' libraries, the county system has 41 libraries and 5 million-plus books, CDs and DVDs.

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380