Monday, May 22, 2006

DC Library Leader to Make More Than Mayor

Ginnie Cooper has been hired to be the DC Public Library's new Executive Director. Her salary will be $205,000/year. DC Mayor Anthony Williams makes a paltry $152,000.

"Baggage" may well become Cooper's nickname, if it isn't already. She ran away from her job as head of the Brooklyn Public Library after she had to give back $27,000 in pay after she took more than 6 weeks of vacation not allowed by her contract. She tried to take a trip to Asia for a conference on the public dole to the tune of $20,000.

Even one of Cooper's anonymous "supporters" admits she has personal issues, including problems with interpersonal communication.

The news story at the ALA Web site and statements in the some of links given above by John Hill, President of the DCPL Board of Trustees, ignore her problems and instead paint her as someone who must surely be one of the greatest living librarians in the world.

The criticisms aimed at Cooper need answering. Cooper and Hill both need to address them. How did so much acrimony build up between Cooper and the Brooklyn board? How much blame does she take for that? Why did Hill and the DC board hire someone at such an exorbitant salary with such a checkered past? How does Hill answer the obvious ethical questions surrounding Cooper?

The DC Public Library system, by all accounts including my own, is in a terrible condition and needs a lot of help--and it can only receive that kind assistance through a coordinated effort from library and civic leaders working together. Can Cooper work with others?

Ask yourself: If you were hiring a librarian for your library, would you hire someone who did what Cooper did? I wouldn't, and I don't think you would either.

I've questioned before the type of people who somehow find themselves gifted with leadership positions in libraries. Cooper's hiring gives no reason to be optimistic that things are changing. Wouldn't it be wonderful if she proved me and others wrong? For the sake of those awful public libraries over in DC, we can only hope.

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Anonymous said...

I can only assume that this was done to demoralize critics of Williams' planned "overhaul" of DCPL and the handing over of many of its assets (MLK, the West End library site) to developers. Progress will only come when the neighborhoods focus more on improving their branches without the city's help or approval (and in some cases, by
violating city rules - e.g. having
all donations filtered though, and
cataloging done at, MLK) - the rot at DCPL is too deep for anything else to work.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Cooper may have her problems... and she may have to work extra hard to earn her exorbinant salary... but c'mon, the improper leave was used to care for her dying mother. We need to get the facts before we hang someone in a public arena.

I agree that both Cooper and the DC Library Board of Trustees have a lot to explain in the way this deal was done... but it is done and we all need to rally to make them ensure it pays off for DC.