By now, what happened at last night’s emergency library board meeting is old news, and most of you may have moved on to the (possibly) sexier topic of urban chickens (though what could be sexier than books? Libraries have books about urban chickens, you know).
I attended the meeting, and even though Board President Chris Scherer asked those speaking to not rehash issues addressed at last month’s meeting, it did (understandably) tend to happen. The range in topics was predictable and comprehensive: overzealous weeding; mismanagement by the director and her refusal to accept responsibility; the unease, stress, and hostile work environment among the staff; the need for a grievance policy; and the now notorious Strategic Plan that pretty much seems to have started it all (Seriously. Check out that link).
The crowd was large: At least 100 people in attendance with 40+ more watching via live stream (again, provided by JP Goguen and the Independent Media Center). Of the 14–15 people who addressed the board, not one spoke in favor of Director Lissak or her policies.
Finally, the Board entered closed session and — lesson learned — we were told we could wait if we chose to do so, and a surprisingly large number of us did. After about forty minutes, they returned with this announcement:
The Board and the Executive Director jointly agree that it is in the best interest of the Urbana Free Library to pursue an early separation agreement. The specifics of this agreement, including the Director's end date, will be worked out in the coming weeks as the board searches for an Interim Director.
And then what happened? Well, what happened is that some in the crowd clapped. And while they clapped, Deb Lissak smiled and nodded her goodbye.
I have video of this too, but I've chosen to not post it.
The title of this article is paraphrased from UFL Adult Services Librarian Carol Inskeep’s address to the board.
Cover image by JP Goguen.