May 3, 2005

Gossip again

From news reports:

Library board should decide it's time for director to go
R______ Public Library Director [K.] and the trustees she works for should realize it's over.

(Editorial--April 17)--We come reluctantly to the conclusion that [K.] must be removed from her post in light of her one-week unpaid suspension for failing to meet management objectives the board set for her.

If the trustees want to have a fighting chance at passing a tax referendum next year, they need to act quickly. The public is paying close attention.

[K.] MADE news last month when she was disciplined for using her business credit card for personal items. The library's chief financial officer had told [K.] the practice was unacceptable when it happened last year. When more personal items were charged early this year, the CFO went to the board of trustees.

Both times, [K.] paid what she owed. The board determined that she had every intention of reimbursing the library when the charges were made. She was reprimanded, and the board took away her credit- card privileges for six months.

We could buy that, and, lacking evidence to the contrary, we had to trust the board's conclusion: [K.]'s mistake with the credit cards was a naive lapse in judgment by a woman who was in her first top leadership post. She was sorry and embarrassed.

The board members were happy with some of the changes [K.] made at the library and they liked the direction she was taking the institution.

Then last week, the board suspended [K.] for other reasons. While not disclosing the reasons, trustees said the suspension resulted from the director's failure to meet standards the board had set for her performance. A week's suspension signals to the public that the problems are serious. It is doubly regrettable that the discipline came during National Library Week. Another board meeting is set for April 25.

BOARD MEMBERS must realize that public opinion is running against their handling of the situation. Of course, a decision does not have to be popular to be right, but too much has tarnished the [K.] tenure. The board has no choice but to release her.

Her ability to lead has been badly damaged. Even if she kept her job, it's doubtful she would be able to accomplish her own professional goals, given the breach of trust with library employees.

Even more important is the breach of trust in the community. Cities don't expect their libraries to produce headlines of mismanagement and discord.

The headlines started with [K.] 's predecessor ... who was intensely disliked for his brash management style. He left employee morale in tatters.

[K.] STEPPED onto that unstable stage when she took the job in 2002. Some of her actions to save money weren't popular with employees -- for instance, outsourcing maintenance. But the board liked some of the programs she implemented to increase library usage and improve circulation of materials.

What the board, library employees and the city need now is stability and good service. People in this city value the library system and might be willing to raise their taxes to improve services, but they will do so only if they trust the people who will be handling public money.

Final decision on library director's employment could come next week

(April 26)--The nine trustees who govern the city's library system might decide next Monday whether embattled library director [K.] will stay.

Board members discussed [K.]'s job performance behind closed doors for more than an hour Monday but made no recommendation regarding her employment.

Trustees didn't meet with [K.] during their private discussion.

However, [K.] met with [the] board attorney ... for 15 minutes in her office after the board meeting. She declined to comment about her future at the library.

"Discussions are ongoing," said [the] board President .... "There has been no conclusion. We are going to be meeting next Monday to continue discussions."

Board members' support for [K.] waned in February when they learned that she charged more than $1,000 on clothes, groceries and other personal expenses on a library credit card. [K.] reimbursed the charges, though trustees suspended her credit-card privileges for six months.

[K.] came under fire again this month when trustees handed her a one-week suspension with pay for failing to meet management objectives. Board members said they considered firing [K.] at that meeting but couldn't reach a consensus.

During the public portion of Monday's meeting, [K.] spent 10 minutes highlighting her administration's accomplishments in 2004. The library's circulation, summer reading club participation and Web site usage all posted record highs last year, she said.

[K.] did not discuss a lengthy memo she gave trustees to explain the progress she's made on a list of nine management objectives.

In the memo, [K.] writes that she and the library's chief financial officer had scheduling conflicts that got in the way of their ability to communicate and improve their relationship. She writes that she and the officer have worked "fruitfully" over the past few weeks.

[K.] was hired in June 2002 to replace ..., who resigned amid complaints of a brash management style.

[K.] worked at libraries in Mich. and Colo. for five years before coming to R_____, where she earns $81,900 a year. be continued...unfortunately...

{edited by siteowner}

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