Trenton Librarian Suspended..by New Boss

Former Acting Public Library Director Irene Percelli, a resident of Mays Landing, has been suspended by new director Scott Hughes, because she lives outside of the city, contrary to residency requirements. Percelli had said she feared board members erroneously thought she leaked information to the press about the hubbub over controversial "street-lit[erature]" urban books being bought by the library.

She said Hughes suspended her "because I'm not a resident of Trenton. He said he was instructed to do it by the board, that he only works for the board, and does what they tell him." Story from The Trentonian.

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

poor reporting

Would it really have been too much trouble to say how long she had worked there prior to becoming acting director? If she didn't work there before becoming acting director why would she still be there anyway? If she did work there prior, then why wasn't it an issue then?

Not much information

There is not much information about what controversial books the Acting Director bought, and frankly how involved in buying the books is the director? There is also little information about the controversey.

That said, the woman was give an extension in March to find a place in the city. It is October and 2/3 of that is over. Find an apartment how freaking hard can it be. Go home on weekends until your family can move with you.

For all that it matters she could have set up a Maplethorpe exhibit in the lobby, if they suspended her for not living in the city when the job requires that you live in the city it seems the most appropriate response would be to .... move to the city.

If she can't see if there is (and if so what it says) any handwriting on the wall about whatever nonsense book controversey then she is in a sad state. One should know if one's bosses want you out the door, if someone is that oblivious, perhaps they should be out the door.

Remember too that the director, or Acting Director, or Assistant acting sub-director for directing, works for the board. The board is the boss. If they want only books with blue covers you buy books with only blue covers.

Now, professionalism would require that as librarians we say no to book buying decisions made by non-professionals but since people will work for ten bucks an hour, and library schools crank out more librarians than could ever be gainfully employed in the field we have lost the clout that other professionals have. Ask a CPA to fudge the books - no way and good luck finding another, ask a physician for a medical excuse to cover the week you took off and went to Vegas, hardly. Ask a librarian to buy only 'Christian' books - can we walk away in a huff, tell them that is stupid because it does not fully represent what patrons want? Nope because there would be a stack of CVs on the board's desk and a line of new grads at the door in the morning.

Librarians made the bed now they don't want to sleep in it.

Yeah, yeah.... she wants to serve the people of Trenton, change the library from what it was 30 years ago.... BFD. Maybe the people of Trenton like the library and express that through the board. Librarianship is not a crusade for peace, justice and the (sorry Rosie) American Way!. It is a 9-5, put your time in collect your check and if on the off chance you are able to effect minor change be happy.

Re:poor reporting

There really is very little information in this article. But, that said, it is clear from the article that she doesn't meet the residency requirements and that she doesn't deny it. In fact, she confirms she knew it was an issue. She is quoted as saying that she "asked them for an extension on residency until the end of the year. I wasn’t told no." Not being told no doesn't mean yes, especially if you are asking for an exception to a rule. I remember seeing the job ad for the director position and it was pretty obvious that you had to live in the city. I live near Trenton, NJ, and it isn't hard to find a place to live in the city (and despite what people may think, Trenton has some nice areas).

Re:Not much information

The article in the Trenton Times http://www.nj.com/news/times/regional/index.ssf?/b ase/news-7/1161318697216180.xml&coll=5 has more information. Seems she was giving the standard one year to relocate into Trenton and didn't do so. The book controversy doesn't really involve the board, it seems that they already had 6 copies of a book and someone (an accountant) didn't pay for 5 more copies for some reason. Percelli seems to think the board thinks she leaked info about someone not paying for the books and that is why they are enforcing the rules.

Re:poor reporting

True but there is a thing called 'past precedence' that I think would apply if she had always worked there. Did they try and enforce it because she became acting director? Did she agree because she hoped to become full director? I think this would shed some light on whether or not this is all politically motivated as it is implied in the article.

Just for full disclosure I'm not a fan of residency requirements, they're an unnecessary burden and a turn-off when looking for job applicants.

Re:poor reporting

I'm not a fan of residency requirements either, but if you take a job that has one, you need to follow it. From the Trenton Times article I linked to in a different comment, it seems that she was hired knowing she had a year to move to Trenton (which is the grace period I have seen in ads for the Trenton public library). It is a good question about how well the requirements were enforced before though (and if they have tried to enforce them on others in the past). I don't have any answer to that, but I know people who have worked for Trenton public in the past and they mentioned they had to live in Trenton.

Re:Not much information

I'd have to try them on this one. Residency requirements routinely are stricken down. The classic test case was in regards to a city fireman who lived in a different municipality. Since the fireman was able to meet the required response time where he lived was irrelevant as a position requirement. What possible portion of her job description would be negatively impacted by not living in the same town as the library. I've had interviews and employers who wanted me to live in the same municipality/county. Whenever I've been confronted with this I state I'll consider it.

Signs of a Dysfunctional Library Here

The Trenton Public Library has NO copies of the New York Times number one non-fiction best seller "State of Denial" and only one copy of number two "Culture Warrior" as a branch location.

Re:Not much information

Not to be an arse, but do you get those jobs after you tell them you'll consider it?

Re:Signs of a Dysfunctional Library Here

First, the word dysfunctional is annoying psychobabble.

Second, perhaps it is on order and their catalog may not include on order titles (some libraries do so patrons can reserve it before it arrives).

Third, not ordering everything on the NYT best seller list is indicitative of just that and nothing more. The LOC does not have State of Denial... either. (Although LOC has O'Reilly's book.)

Not that I equate Trenton's Library with the LOC, but to say, because a library does not hold this title or that title, it is somehow substandard is juvenile and insulting to the profession. Your grasp of collection development, library budgets, and interlibrary loan is keenly evident by its absence. When you can get every book that every patron in every library could ever possibly want, or when you understand why that is not possible then please feel free to pontificate.

Re:Not much information

That article also stated that her husband had been receiving cancer treatments during the year and had just passed away on August 31st. To me, a bit more time could be granted since she has just lost her husband. I can't really see much point in having her look for a new place to live while trying to cope with her recent loss. It hasn't even been two months since her husband passed away. The board could have more compassion.

Re:Not much information

Actually your not being an arse. The two times this has happened I was offered both jobs. My opinion is the board/director will soon find out exactly how good of a errors and ommissions policy they have.

Re:poor reporting

Don't kill the messenger. Sorry I wasn't able to locate and post a more complete article, thank you Anon. for doing so [nj.com]

Syndicate content