N.J. City Fires Director, Considers Privatization

By Flagg, Gordon | American Libraries, April 2000 | Go to article overview
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N.J. City Fires Director, Considers Privatization


Flagg, Gordon, American Libraries


Following a pair of studies that called for a complete overhaul of the library system, the board of the Paterson (N.J.) Free Public Library voted in late February to fire Director Kwaku Amoabeng. The board is also considering hiring Library Systems and Services, Inc., to run its troubled operations.

The reports--one from a consultant with the state library and another, more technical one from the state Treasury Department--criticized nearly every aspect of the library, calling overall service "pathetic," with usage declining for years. The consultant's report complained that Amoabeng, who was hired by the library in 1986 and became director in 1993, had no plans to improve the system and showed no leadership skills, the Bergen Record reported February 29.

"It was clearly a situation that had become intolerable," said city spokesperson Bob Grant, who noted that circulation and attendance had dropped by 40% over the past three years. Grant particularly faulted Amoabeng for insufficient progress in automating the library system. Although Amoabeng has blamed lack of funds for the failure to automate, the Record said the studies indicated that other libraries manage to accomplish much more with less money. Additionally, Amoabeng lost a $100,000 state automation grant by failing to apply before the deadline.

However, Amoabeng's defenders credit the fired director with what little technological progress the system has made.

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