Magazine article American Libraries

Library Director to Leave over Financial Differences

Magazine article American Libraries

Library Director to Leave over Financial Differences

Article excerpt

The good news: The mudslides that overwhelmed some northern California communities in mid-March did not cause any physical-plant damage to any of Sonoma County Library's 13 facilities. The bad news: That fact is one of the few pieces of good news the beleagured system's boosters have gotten so far this year.

Since late January, a series of local newspaper stories have reported the concerns of SCL founder David Sabsay, as well as staff and library commissioners, about the management style of Director David Price, who began heading the system in 1992. The escalating controversy has resulted in Price announcing his decision not to seek a renewal of his employment contract, which expires Oct. 4. The library commission accepted his announcement as a resignation Mar. 1; at that same meeting, they voted to hire a mediator to examine internal conflicts at the library.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat stories detail staff dismay over Price's projection of a $400,000+ deficit for 1995-96 and several options he cited as possible solutions, including a management restructuring, offering an early retirement option to some staffers, and renegotiating a 1992-97 union contract mandating cost-of-living raises of as much as 5% annually.

Sabsay, who declined to speak to AL, sent a letter to the commission Jan. 7 attacking his successor's figures. While agreeing that declining property values would lower actual revenues, Sabsay wrote that Price's report, "if taken seriously," could prove disastrous for a system "already in a serious state of disarray." Price, who is 1995 president-elect of the California Library Association, told AL that the commission accepted his refutations of Sabsay's allegations "without comment."

Downturn in "God's country"

Admitting "our problem is much more manageable" than other financially devastated California libraries, library commission President Dorothy Bertucci said that news of the FY1995-96 deficit came as quite a shock to staff and commission members nonetheless. …

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