Sonoma County's Library Commission plans to hire an interim library director before permanently replacing embattled director Sandy Cooper.

A three-member search committee of commissioners is expected to recommend how to proceed with the hiring at an Aug. 5 meeting, said Tim May, commission chairman.

"We really want to be sure it's an open and available process ... and involve the public and stakeholders as much as possible," said May.

Committee members will consider both promoting a current employee and looking for an interim director from outside the county.

Hiring a permanent director right away didn't make sense since the county is in the midst of reviewing the library system's governing agreement with Sonoma County cities, he said.

Commissioners thought it would be easier to hire someone once the future direction of the libraries is more clear, including possible changes to the size and structure of the county's Library Commission.

Cooper's last day is Sept. 20. She has been county library director for eight years and makes $150,820 annually.

She emailed staff in late June about her plans, saying she was looking forward to focusing on her garden, her dogs and other hobbies.

In her wake are critics who have complained about her management style. A 2012 county grand jury report said Cooper had an "unresponsive" relationship with the public and county officials and a micromanaging style with staff.

She has denied those charges.

Supporters include the Library Commission, which supervises her. Commission members have praised her leadership of the 13-branch system during the recent difficult economic times.

Since 2010 Cooper has kept libraries closed on Mondays due to budget cuts.

"Anybody who has paid attention knows the library is facing many challenges," said May, including a lack of library funding.

Cooper declined to comment on the process for hiring her replacement but said the biggest challenge for her replacement will be dealing with the lack of money.