New library board takes matters into its own hands
Morgan told to hand in her keys
By Trudy Balcom
RAWLINS — The four-hour plus special meeting of the Library Board of Directors Wednesday night opened with the election of new officers.
A seemingly routine board duty, however, led to a change in leadership for both the Board and the Carbon County Library System, as well as a powerful change of direction for a county agency struggling with a sharply reduced budget and a deep divide between board and staff members.
Two new board members were seated at the table for their first meeting, Cindy Bloomquist, of Saratoga, and Eleanore Behrmann, of Encampment.
The board immediately elected Joyce Menke as board chair and Tom Callison as vice chair, with former board chairman Joanne Whitson voting against those elections. Behrmann was elected as secretary and Bloomquist was elected treasurer.
Menke immediately took over the position as chair and began directing the meeting.
The Board then decamped into a separate room for an executive session to deal with personnel issues. County Attorney Ashley Mayfield Davis joined them to provide the board with counsel.
‘A way to show our protest’
Mira Miller, a former librarian and a current member of the Carbon County Library Foundation Board, discussed her feelings about the board’s activities with the audience remaining in the room.
She invited everyone to stand as “a way to show our protest for improper actions” on the part of the Board. Miller was referring to the Board’s treatment of Library Director Bobbie Morgan, and other staff.
Others questioned Carbon County Commissioner Leo Chapman, who also attended the meeting, about how to recall library board members. Chapman said he was unsure about the procedure.
When the board returned 30 minutes later, they were greeted by an audience on their feet — but no applause.
“While you were in executive session, it became very apparent that there is a tremendous lack of trust in the Board,” one man told Menke.
That lack of trust was expressed repeatedly, as later in the meeting the Board began to discuss how to fill vacant positions, including positions for information specialists — the front desk staff — at the Rawlins library.
Nearly all of the resigned staff members were in the audience. One woman stood up and asked if the Board had discussed with Morgan their plan to bring new staff to the Rawlins library.
Menke said they had not.
“We are taking over, as a board, the running of the library. She will be turning in her keys as of tonight,” Menke said of Morgan.
Immediately, about a dozen people leaped to their feet in protest, including Morgan, accompanied by an angry outcry.
“You’ve just walked away from $50,000 in grants,” Morgan said.
Menke, Morgan and Davis departed the room, possibly to discuss legal details of Morgan’s dismissal. Morgan had protested that her employment status was not discussed in open session as she had requested.
“You’ve just insulted a woman who has done everything the Board asked of her,” said former library bookkeeper April Martinez.
Board members explained to the audience that Morgan would be paid through July 18, her formal date of resignation.
Board members told the audience that Morgan needed to go immediately because there was too much negativity and so the library could move forward.
“There were hard feelings all over,” Menke said after she returned to the meeting. “There are further extenuating circumstances.”
All of the former library employees departed the meeting after Morgan’s abrupt dismissal, and Miller again expressed her shock and protest.
Board members responded that they had not received copies of any of the letters of resignation from the staff, not even Morgan’s own letter of resignation, even though they had requested them from Morgan. Whitson said she had received a hard copy of Morgan’s letter, but had not disseminated it among other board members.
With the departure of Morgan, there is only one paid staff person remaining at the Rawlins library — Youth Services Director JoAnne Connors.
The meeting concluded with the board discussing how to hire former and current branch library staff to reopen the Rawlins library.
“The library will be open again (Thursday),” Menke emphatically stated.
The next meeting of the Carbon County Library Board will be held at 4 p.m. at the Hanna Library. A Town Hall meeting will be held at 6:30. Both meetings are open to the public.