Employment & Work Stories

Do Salt Lake City Librarians Have a Censorship Problem?

Salt Lake City Library employees say the latest chapter on staff turmoil is rich with irony: a clampdown on free speech inside the very institution that celebrates the principle.

A just-launched crackdown on any opinionated email — and on criticism of management expressed via social media — has some veteran librarians fearing for their jobs and a chorus of others crying censorship.

Even Friends of the Library members are openly questioning the library’s direction and its “chronic problems.”

The uproar started last week after the human resources manager unveiled new guidelines for all-staff email. It is only appropriate, Shelly Chapman wrote, to send pertinent, work-related information such as available shifts and job announcements. “It was also determined,” Chapman wrote, “that employees would not use all-staff email to voice opinions or express concerns.”

“Appropriate” all-staff email must be reviewed by two staffers before sending, the edict reads. And “any other” all-staff email must be approved by the employee’s manager.

That prompted veteran librarian Ranae Pierce — via an all-staff email — to point out the irony of the rule, given the library’s free-speech mission. Story from the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Librarian Tells It As She Sees It, is Fired, and Sues

Maybe you've blogged about a disturbing patron, or posted something on a tumblr account about the not-quite-with-it daily visitor to your library.

From M (Michigan) Live: Former library assistant Sally Stern-Hamilton (under the pen name Anne Miketa) wrote a fictionalized book about about her experiences in the library and was fired for it. Now she's suing.

Stern-Hamilton’s literary work, entitled 'Library Diaries' — a disturbing look at life in the library — wound up on the shelves at Mason County District Library. It got her fired there as a library assistant.

Now the author has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the library violated her free-speech rights by firing her.

“(Stern-Hamilton’s) First Amendment interests, combined with the interests of the public, outweigh the government’s interest in the efficient performance of the workplace,” her attorney, David Blanchard wrote. “(She) was explicitly fired for engaging in protected speech.”

Library director Robert Dickson declined to comment. Attorney Kathleen Klaus, representing the library, Dickson, and Marilyn Bannon, president of the library board, said she would respond to the complaint next month. The controversy created headlines three years ago when Stern-Hamilton was fired from her job of 14 years.

"After working at a public library in a small, rural Midwestern town (which I will refer to as Denialville, Michigan, throughout this book) for 15 years, I have encountered strains and variations of crazy I didn’t know existed in such significant portions of our population,” Stern-Hamilton wrote in the introduction. -- Read More

Librarians under city scrutiny for e-chat

Two members of the Pollard Memorial Library staff in Lowell, MA, are being investigated by city officials for expressing their frustrations with a coworker. During an IM chat, they discussed, apparently in jest, covering for each other if the coworker was found dead.

http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_18475557

This is the latest story in a series of incidents at the Pollard Library regarding safety issues or staff conflicts. In March, the Lowell Sun reported that staff bypassed the Library Director and went right to the City Council to voice their complaints, and were later reprimanded by the Director for improper actions (citation: Lowell library workers silenced for speaking out about safety fears. Lyle Moran. The Sun. Lowell, Mass.: Mar 7, 2011).

Anonymous cover letters from hired librarians and archivists

Anonymous cover letters from hired librarians & archivists
Open Cover Letters

Are you currently applying for jobs in libraries or archives? This website hopes to open up the mysterious world of hiring by making real cover letters open to the public, with personal information redacted.

A big special Thank You to all the early cover letter contributors! You are responsible for helping to get this website off the ground.

If you currently have a job and would like to submit a cover letter that got an interview to this website, please email steve@opencoverletters.com. I and many other people will be very thankful.

Don’t forget to follow @opencoverletter on Twitter for updates.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

22 Librarians paid more than governors

More than 77,000 federal government employees throughout the country — including computer operators, more than 5,000 air traffic controllers, 22 librarians and one interior designer — earned more than the governors of the states in which they work.
77,000 federal workers paid more than governors
[Thanks Dan!]

Salt Lake City Staffers Unhappy With Their Director

The Salt Lake Tribune reports: For the second consecutive public meeting, Salt Lake City Public Library Director Beth Elder was assailed by employees, who argued her methods are tyrannical, managers are "miserable" and that morale is plummeting.

"That might be the most poisonous thing we’re seeing," 15-year associate librarian Mike Nordenstrom told a rapt Library Board on Thursday in a Main Library conference room that echoed with applause and hoots after each successive speaker.

"Why doesn’t the board investigate reports of intimidation and retaliation?" asked Candy Markle, a library assistant at the Sprague branch. "Given the lack of employee confidence in Ms. Elder, as well as the current public-relations crisis over her decisions, how is the board going to successfully sell the public on a tax increase this year for the new branches? Has she been a successful leader? Has the reputation of the library improved under her supervision?"

Board members sat mostly silent during the onslaught, while Elder fidgeted in her chair. Multiple speakers also rattled off a list of longtime employees who recently retired or resigned from the public resource hub that won the 2006 Library of the Year award. -- Read More

Vt. woman facing charges for overdue library items

Vt. woman facing charges for overdue library items
A Vermont woman is facing charges that she failed to return hundreds of dollars' worth of books and videos from the library.

State Police say the 35-year-old woman from Concord has been cited on a charge of theft of rented property

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Announces Management Changes for Upcoming Year

Charlotte, NC – January 19, 2011 – In a proactive move to position itself for the FY 2012 budget and the recommendations of the Future of the Library Task Force this spring, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board has approved interim changes in the Library’s executive management structure.

Charles Brown, who has served as Director of Libraries for the past seven years, has announced plans to leave the system at the end of the fiscal year in June. He will remain with the Library in a management role until that time, assisting with daily operations and system changes as needed.

Vick Phillips, an experienced executive who once served as chief of staff for former Bank of America Chairman and CEO Hugh McColl, will join the Library as an interim Chief Executive Officer during the transition. Phillips will play a lead role in daily and strategic operations for the Library while he also guides the Library’s budget planning process and prepares the organization for the Task Force’s recommendations.

“The Library is entering a new chapter, and we feel that Vick Phillips’ leadership, along with the experience and knowledge of Charles Brown, will help ensure an even higher level of success in implementing recommended changes for the future,” says Robin Branstrom, chair of the Library Board. More coverage from the Charlotte Observer.

Shuffling Away from Buffalo...to Queens

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - One day after announcing she would be leaving her post at the end of her contract, Buffalo and Erie County Library Director Bridget Quinn-Carey has accepted a job in Queens.

The Library Board announced Tuesday that Quinn-Carey would leave her post at the end of her three-year contract on March 4th. Quinn-Carey has now accepted a job with the library system in Queens. For nearly three years she's overseen the libraries as they dealt with major budget cuts. She told "Business First," she doesn't blame the money crunch for her departure. Additional coverage on Quinn-Carey's move here (whoa, she's 'commuting' from Buffalo to NYC).

Does there seem to be more movement among library directors as of late?

Check Out Your Employees

This is pretty low.
Dateline: SPARTA, NJ : A Lake Hopatcong woman who served as an assistant librarian at the Sparta Public Library was charged with pocketing $529 of fees collected for overdue books and lost book replacements over the past two years, police said.

Susan Simovich, 56, was charged with one count of third-degree theft of movable property on Saturday, said Sparta Police Sgt. John-Paul Beebe, a department spokesman.

Library officials began noticing discrepancies occurring in the tally sheets of fine money and the actual monies on hand on Oct. 1, 2008, Beebe said.

Sparta Police were notified of the ongoing discrepancies on July 9, 2010, and Simovich was charged after a lengthy investigation, he said. She was released, pending a Municipal Court appearance on Nov. 8, he said.

Simovich, who worked at the library for about three years, was interviewed at headquarters last Tuesday and admitted to taking $529 of the fine money over the two-year period that the discrepancies began, Beebe said.

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