Gwinnett library board fires director

Duane Stanford reports:

The Gwinnett County Library Board fired its executive director Monday, enraging a crowd of patrons who wanted her to keep her job.

Sparking cries of “incompetent” and “fire the board” from the audience, three of the library board’s five members voted to oust director Jo Ann Pinder, 57, without cause. The board’s chairman did not vote, but announced he endorsed the decision.

After the vote, Pinder supporters and detractors argued with one another. Police had been brought into the meeting earlier to keep order.

The panel’s majority used a parliamentary procedure to block the board’s only Pinder supporter, Brett Taylor, from speaking before the vote to fire the woman who had been the library’s director for 15 years. Taylor left the meeting in protest immediately after the vote and stood outside with Pinder supporters.

“She should have been given a fair chance to learn what the board wanted from her and to make any adjustments,” Taylor said.

A group of citizens attending the meeting wearing stickers that said “I support the board Patron Power” clapped when the vote was completed.

More than 100 library patrons, many of them wearing red clothing to show support for Pinder, packed a conference room at the Five Forks Trickum library branch south of Lawrenceville to witness the vote.

Another 70 or more patrons stood in a hallway outside because they were unable to fit into the meeting room. The board’s decision set off an eruption of angry shouts. “I hope y’all get fired in public like this!” one patron yelled.

And there’s this:

Warren Furlow, who runs a Web site called gcplwatch.org, asked the board to better “harmonize the library system with conservative values” of the community.

So it wasn’t just about GCPL buying popular books.

Previous post:

Battle over Gwinnett Library Leader coming to a head.

6 comments

  1. Chris says:

    So it wasn’t just about GCPL buying popular books.

    *ChrisF waits for the WSB750 story about an effort to ban Harry Potter in the Gwinnett County Public Libraries.

    This is what happens when people with too little to do are given anything resembling token power

  2. duluthmom says:

    I live in Gwinnett, and find it so reassuring to read that the GCPL Board opperates in such a fair manner (sigh/eyes rolled). To fire someone without citing a true cause in a public forum is pathetic. Even worse though is reading the final quote on “conservative values” from Furlow, especially after recently experiencing the whole “Harry Potter should be banned from school libraries” controversey. He and his followers should re-read a classic–Fahrenheit 451–where special-interest groups like his own forced the government to burn books rather than permit anyone to read material that conflicts with their own ideology. Oh wait, it’s probably on their list of books they’d like to ban…

  3. Demonbeck says:

    More from Gwinnett…

    Harry Potter vote appealed to state

    By LAURA DIAMOND
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Published on: 06/13/06
    The battle over Harry Potter continues.

    The Loganville mother who asked the Gwinnett County school board to banish the books has appealed to the state the board’s decision to let the books stay in school libraries.

    The board voted last month to keep the popular series about the young wizard, saying the books had merit and encouraged students to read. Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks told board members Monday he received the appeal notice from the parent, Laura Mallory.

    The school system received Mallory’s letter late Friday asking that the matter be referred to the state Board of Education, district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said. Wilbanks has 10 days to submit a copy of the letter along with other related documents to the state, she said. Roach did not know when the state would take up the issue.

    Mallory, who has three children at J.C. Magill Elementary, argued the Harry Potter stories promote and glorify witchcraft. She said Monday that appealing the board’s decision to the state “was the right thing to do.”

    “I hope to raise awareness regarding the overwhelming content of witchcraft and the occult that is being marketed to our children,” she said.

    After Mallory filed her complaint in September, media review panels from J.C. Magill Elementary and the school district ruled the books should remain. The panels are composed of parents, teachers and community members.

    Mallory appealed the panels’ decisions to the school board and a hearing was held in April. The retired DeKalb County school administrator who presided over the appeal strongly recommended the books remain. The school board agreed.

    The Harry Potter series, with more than 270 million copies in print, are among the most popular books in children’s literature. The books inspired a series of popular movies. Still, the tales regularly appear on the challenged and banned books lists compiled by the American Library Association.

    Find this article at:
    http://www.ajc.com/news/content/metro/gwinnett/stories/0613gwxpotter.html

  4. Harry says:

    Concerning the issues around the dismissal of the director…it’s interesting to think about the purpose of community libraries in today’s materialistic culture, whether or not libraries should be subsidizing the pulp book publishing industry which certainly caters to the tastes of many. There were allegations that history and classical literature materials were being tossed.

    A related question is whether such public libraries really have much value anymore, given the widespread electronic media availability.

  5. Demonbeck says:

    Is it the job of a librarian to promote an interest in reading in a community or is it the job of a librarian to dust old, unused books?

    I guess we know the answer in Gwinnett.

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