Library Director Resigns, Vacates; Board Chairman Says Sivulich Management Style Is an Issue, and His Fund-Raising Skills in a Time of Budget Constraints

By Palka, Mary Kelli | The Florida Times Union, February 13, 2004 | Go to article overview

Library Director Resigns, Vacates; Board Chairman Says Sivulich Management Style Is an Issue, and His Fund-Raising Skills in a Time of Budget Constraints


Palka, Mary Kelli, The Florida Times Union


Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA, The Times-Union

Jacksonville Library Director Ken Sivulich said Thursday he was given two choices by the library board chairman: Retire or risk being fired.

So after almost seven years as head of the Jacksonville Public Library System, Sivulich announced his retirement.

Though he'll continue to receive his salary through April 30, Sivulich vacated his office Thursday leaving his deputy, Carolyn Shehee Williams, in charge.

Board Chairman Steve Rosenbloom said Sivulich's management style was one of the reasons he made the decision to ask Sivulich to retire.

"There have always been issues with Ken's style of management with this administration [Mayor John Peyton] and the former administration [Mayor John Delaney]," Rosenbloom said. "I made a decision that I was not going to spend the second half of my chairmanship trying to mend fences between the director and the administration."

Rosenbloom, whose one-year term as chairman started July 1, also pointed to recent budget constraints and said it has become important the director be involved in fund-raising for the library, but that's not Sivulich's "skillset."

Sivulich will turn 65 in April. Starting in May, he's expected to serve as a consultant for the city on the building of the new Main Library, six branch libraries and the renovations and expansions of 12 other branch libraries. The construction is a result of the 2000 voter-approved Better Jacksonville Plan, which included $150 million for libraries. The projects are expected to be complete in the summer of 2005.

"I had a job to do which would be completed on June 30, 2005," Sivulich said. "That would be my preference [for how long to stay]."

Sivulich will be paid $83,000 for his consulting, which will end Dec. 30, Chief Deputy General Counsel Cindy Laquidara said.

His annual salary as library director is $116,500.

Sivulich came to Jacksonville in 1997 from the Queens Borough Public Library in New York, where he spent 17 years.

His retirement comes just about a month after Peyton called for a partial and temporary hiring and buying freeze of the library system. Peyton cited a recently released report by a graduate student that questioned the library's spending.

City Hall controls the library's budget but the board hires and fires its director. The mayor appoints all members of the board.

Rosenbloom and library board member Bill Scheu have been working with Peyton's staff to review the library's budget and hire someone to help the library board put together a strategic plan.

Sivulich, who was upset when he heard about the freeze, was having a difficult time working with the administration, Rosenbloom said.

Sivulich's retirement announcement came just before the board's planned monthly meeting. It was discussed during the meeting but board members did not provide details in front of the news media. …

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