Library director’s resignation cites ‘unhealthy’ situation created by officials
By Trudy Balcom
RAWLINS — At a Carbon County Library System Board meeting called on June 24, recently-hired Library Director Bobbie Morgan tendered her resignation. Morgan did not attend the meeting, but rather submitted a letter of resignation to the board.
In the letter, Morgan said that library board members Joyce Menke and Tom Callison, as well as County Commissioners Sue Jones and Lindy Glode, acted in a manner “degrading staff contributions and value to the library,” creating a situation which is “unhealthy for all,” Morgan wrote.
“As a director, I expected the Library Board to treat me and the employees with the courtesy and respect and the same professionalism with which the board has been treated,” the letter stated.
Morgan was hired in April after the position of library director was vacant for nearly nine months following the departure of former director Marilyn Pederson, who resigned July 20, 2015.
Morgan’s last day on the job is July 18.
The resignation culminated a week of internal chaos for the Carbon County Library System.
On June 20, the Library Board hosted what was planned as a regular meeting of the Library Board followed by a public town hall meeting.
Morgan had worked to prepare another draft of the library budget for the board to review at that meeting. The draft would address the county’s request to reduce spending to operate all eight libraries to a total of $225,000, down from $558,295 in the last fiscal year.
At a $225,000 funding level, Morgan said that the closure of all branch libraries in the system and sharply reduced hours at the main library in Rawlins, was imminent.
Library Board president Joann Whitson agreed, saying June 15 that “at $225,000 there just isn’t a feasible way to keep all the libraries.”
Morgan posted copies of the budget on the library’s website, and Whitson posted an open letter on the website critical of additional budget cuts requested by the County Commissioners.
At least one County Commissioner stated her opposition to the closure of branch libraries. In an email received by the Daily Times from Commissioner Sue Jones June 16, Jones mentioned “recent political posturing, misinformation, and attempt at creating anger and hysteria regarding the Carbon County Library funding,” without specifically naming anyone on the library staff or board.
In that message, she also stated “…I do not want to see ANY libraries close and I will do all that I can to keep them from closing, as I am sure will my fellow Commissioners!”
The message was sent to all members of the Library Board, as well as Morgan and town clerks in the towns where branch libraries are located.
The budget Morgan prepared for the June 20 meeting was never fully reviewed by the board or voted on at that meeting.
Before Morgan’s presentation of her latest budget was completed, Jones presented a library budget she had prepared, without any overt action by the Board to complete their own budget review first.
The board meeting conducted June 24, appears to be in violation of the board’s own bylaws, which states that the board’s special meetings may be called by the director, or at the request of two board members, but, that “(A)ll members and the public must be notified at least one week in advance of the time, place and specific business of the special meeting.”
The Daily Times did not receive notice of the meeting, although other local media outlets were apparently notified.
Like other public boards, the Library Board members are volunteers. They are appointed to staggered three-year terms by the County Commissioners. Part of their tasks include “… responsib(ility) for sound fiscal management of the System, for equitable personnel management practices within the System, and for all legal and ethical aspects of the System's operation,” according to the board’s bylaws.
In a phone conversation with Whitson on Wednesday, Whitson said that this was the second budget she has worked on for the library.
In the budget process, “board members are traditionally guided by the director and longstanding board members,” Whitson said.
For two board members appointed last August, Tom Callison and Joyce Menke, this was their first budget.
“With all the budget cuts made and with a new director, it was not really feasible to do things the traditional way,” Whitson said of this year’s process.
Whitson declined to comment on whether the board’s lack of experience with the budgeting process contributed to the problems the organization is currently facing.
At the next Library Board meeting scheduled for July 6, at the Library in Rawlins, the board will welcome two new members — Eleanore Behrmann of Encampment and Cynthia Bloomquist of Saratoga. Behrmann and Bloomquist will replace outgoing members Gail Lorick and Julie Evans.
The board will likely discuss how to organize library operations with the staff who remain after resignations and cuts, and beginning the search process for a new library director.