DCPL's Franklin Retires amid Praise, Charges

Article excerpt

On the occasion of their retirement, the heads of large libraries are traditionally accorded, at the least, a press release of career plaudits from the institution they are departing and a nice write-up in the local press.

Accordingly, the District of Columbia Public Library came through for Director Hardy Franklin January 13, the day he announced his January 31 retirement after 22 years at the helm. Among other achievements, the statement cited his community leadership, pioneering efforts in library automation, and 1993-94 ALA presidency.

But the Washington Post - which has run stories critical of Franklin's paying a family friend $45,000 to photograph library functions from 1991 to 1993 and summarily dismissing his chief financial officer for balking at paying an undocumented invoice (AL, July/Aug. 1995, p. 629-631 and Sept. 1996, p. 17) - reacted otherwise. In a January 15 story, the newspaper linked Franklin's departure to an August 23 preliminary finding of probable cause by the district's Department of Human Rights in sexual harassment charges filed against him by two senior-level library managers.

"I'm not responsible for [the Post's] coverage," Franklin, 67, told American Libraries from his home February 6. Vehemently denying that his decision to leave DCPL was influenced by anything other than becoming eligible for retirement, Franklin said he "was not necessarily" retiring from librarianship altogether even though he was "not teaching or consulting right now."

Library board President Joyce Clements-Smith said of the Post linkage: "It's unfortunate and tragic that, in the minds of some - particularly people who don't know him - the success, brilliance, and contributions of his career might be overshadowed [by this report], particularly since the case has yet to be finally resolved. …