Monday night, the Gwinnett Library Board will likely decide wether or not to fire Jo Ann Pinder, who has led the Gwinnett County Public Libraries(GCPL) for fifteen years and garnered national recognition for Gwinnett’s libraries. This battle has been brewing for years and in recent months has reached the boiling point.
Last year Pinder recommended eliminating DVDs and CDs the GPCL’s stock as theft was enormous. The Board rejected the proposal after a rather large public outcry. Pinder also apologized recently for getting into a verbal altercation with two Home School Moms. GCPL has come under fire for stocking many books from best-seller lists at the expense, some say, of other more worthwhile books. One Library Board member told the AJC:
(Dale) Todd did say last week that she doesn’t agree with the library system’s focus on stocking bestsellers, such as John Grisham novels, and other popular culture materials. Todd said she also is bothered by a lack of genealogical and educational materials.
“I disagree with the mission, I really do,” she said. “I feel like there’s missing elements. There’s not an open door to listening to the community’s wants.”
Pinder has defended the library’s popular culture focus, which she has spearheaded during the past six years.
“What we’re trying to do is spend the taxpayers’ money for materials that they want,” Pinder said, noting that the system’s popular culture materials attract high checkout rates.
Todd says she doesn’t believe the numbers.
Last week, a group called “GCPL Watch” launched a website to provide information on what they see as problems with Pinder’s leadership. The group includes the Home School Moms involved in the incident with Pinder as well as others who have opposed GCPL policies at various times over the past fifteen years.
Personally, I quite like the availability of popular books, and I completely understood the proposal to remove DVDs and CDs. Having a library is not a sacred right and if people abuse the privilege of obtaining certain materials then too bad, buy your own DVDs and CDs. I suppose the privilege I enjoy of checking out popular books could be revoked, but I’d respond by spending more time at the bookstore. If GCPL should focus on more educational books for Gwinnett’s students then let the Library Board set that policy. Why Pinder needs to be fired I don’t understand.
Something else is at work here that I haven’t yet discovered.