May 4, 2005

Like watching a train wreck in slo-mo

More news reports:

Library executive director's worth outweighs mistake
(Letter to Editor, May 2) -- Crucify her! Crucify her! The [R______ newspaper] Editorial Board has spoken. I dare say that most [R_____]ians have never met [K], executive director of the R_______ Public Library and yet have probably been swayed by the editorial board's opinion. I vigorously disagree with that opinion. I know [K.] to be an enthusiastic and energetic addition to the fabric of our community since accepting the library position in 2002.

LET'S CONSIDER A few of [K.]'s accomplishments in less than three years since her arrival in [R______]. In 2004, the library was awarded the Heart of [R_______] Award by the [____] River District Association. The library's 2004 summer reading program had more than 9,000 participants, a 46 percent increase over the two years before. Also in 2004, the library became one of only a handful of libraries in the world in instituting a "floating collection," a technique for sharing library materials throughout the library facilities and allows the materials to reside in the facility which has the most demand for that item.

In 2003, the library received a $48,000 Eliminate the Digital Divide state grant to install wireless computer labs at three library facilities, and in partnership with [RV] College, provide instruction to library patrons. The library also received a $53,000 state grant to establish the New Financial Opportunities Center, which provides a dedicated area containing financial and investment educational materials in print, audio and video formats. [The] Secretary of State ... congratulated the library with these words: "In these times of fiscal belt tightening, it is uplifting to see your continued commitment to provide new and innovative library services to patrons."

Under [K.]'s leadership, an additional grant of $130,000 was received for a Latino outreach program in which the library partnered with the Literacy Council and La Voz Latina in delivering programs to teach English, citizenship, technology skills and offering after-school tutoring. The library also launched an Internet-based catalog that provides library collection searches, items to be placed on hold, notifications of items added to the library collection, and renewal of checked-out items from wherever there is Internet access.

HOPEFULLY THESE examples cause you to conclude, as I have, that the library has embraced the use of technology to our collective advantage and the library is offering more services than ever before to our community. Such progress doesn't happen without dedicated leadership and vision.

Beyond her library duties, [K.] has volunteered her time to serve as moderator for the Chamber of Commerce Community Awareness Program attended by many up-and-coming community leaders. [K.] has also been recruited to volunteer her service to several area nonprofit boards.

WITHOUT DOUBT, using the library credit card for personal use was inappropriate and I'm sure [K.] is plenty embarrassed. All too often, as a community we focus on the negative and pass judgment without complete knowledge and consideration of relevant issues. In my view, we should celebrate the library's successes rather than participate in the "crucify her" chant.

The library has a talented board whose primary job is to retain and evaluate the performance of the executive director. I suggest that it be allowed to do its job unimpeded by community negativism.

Certainly the [newspaper's] Editorial Board is entitled to its opinion. Please keep in mind this is only an opinion of a handful of people who know considerably less about [K.]'s performance and accomplishments than the Library Board.

I would hate to see our community lose [K.]'s enthusiasm, energy and vision. Those characteristics are in short supply. As a practicing CPA, my views might surprise some. Nevertheless, when [K.]'s talents and accomplishments are given due consideration, I believe they outweigh her foibles by an overwhelming margin.
... a R_____ resident.

Embattled library director resigns

(May 2)-- ... Library board officials tonight announced they accepted the resignation of [K.], the library who has been under fire since February when they learned that she charged more than $1,000 on clothes, groceries and other personal expenses on a library credit card.

[K.], who reimbursed the charges after they were disclosed, will receive three months of severence pay.

The nine-member board discussed [K.]'s situation at last week's meeting in closed session.

[K.] was hired in June 2002 to replace [the former director], 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 was earning $81,900 a year.

R_______ Library Director Resigns
The board indicates it probably will drop plans for a tax referendum next year.
(May 3)--The city's embattled library director resigned Monday after facing months of criticism for abusing a business credit card and failing to meet management goals.

[K.] will receive 90 days' salary under the terms of her resignation, which trustees accepted unanimously after a private, two-hour meeting.

The library's board of trustees will likely nix plans to float a property tax referendum next year to renovate the downtown branch and improve east- and west-side library services because of the recent controversy surrounding [K.], said [the] board President ....

[K.], contacted at home, said stepping down was "the right thing to do." Her departure, in time, may improve the library's chances of passing a tax referendum.

"If this helps them do it, that makes me happy," she said.

Board members' support for [K.] has eroded since trustees learned that she charged more than $1,000 in 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 in April 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.

[The Board president] would not speculate whether the board would have fired [K.] had she not resigned. He praised [K.] for boosting the library's circulation and summer reading club participation "while bringing the library under budget during challenging economic times."

"I think it was the sense of the board that in order for the library to go forward and achieve its goals that this was the time that we needed to accept her resignation to move the organization forward," [he] said.

[K.] praised her staff for the successes she oversaw since taking the library's helm in June 2002.


"When people say R_______ isn't open to change, they can't be talking about the R______ Public Library staff," [K.] said.

"I'm most proud of the budgetary reforms that will allow the library to go to taxpayers and say 'We've done everything we can to get our financial house in order before we ask you for more money.' "

...[T]he library's associate director of public services, will serve as acting director until a director is hired.

The library hired [her] in March. She was previously human resources and finance director for [a district library in] Mich.

Library Chief Versed in Finance
The interim director also was chosen for her rapport with staff.

(May 4)--[T]he city's acting library director while a permanent replacement is chosen, was tapped for her financial background and rapport with staff, the Library Board president said Tuesday.

[She] is stepping in for [K.], who resigned Monday amid criticism for using a business credit card for personal expenses and failing to meet management goals.

[She] joined the library in March as associate director of public services. She was previously human resources and finance director for [a district library in] Mich. and library director for the F_____ (Mich.) Area District Library.

"She's second in command and has served as a director before. She has a financial background and has worked very well with the staff in the time she's been there," [the] board President ... Brien said.

"With her experience, we felt she was the perfect person for that position."

[She] could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

She will be responsible for the library's day-to-day functions and "doing her best to maintain and improve the morale of the employees," [the Board president] said.

The library's board of trustees will hire a consulting firm to help with the search for [K.]'s replacement. [The Board president] said there has been no discussion with [the assistant director] about taking the director's job permanently.

[K.] earned $81,900 a year.

"We're planning on going through the process to find the best person suited to lead the library," he said. "([The assistant director's) position now doesn't preclude her from applying, and that's always an option. But we want to open things up."

Such is the soap opera that is library administration.

Side note: Does anyone else find it...strange...that the interim director has "rapport" after only 2 months (probably less) at this library? Hmmmm....

{edited by siteowner}

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