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Firings Precede New DCPL Director’s Arrival

Days before Ginnie Cooper was slated to begin her tenure as director of the District of Columbia Public Library July 24, acting director Ellen M. Flaherty summarily dismissed five senior librarians, the Washington Post reported July 20. Board President John W. Hill said the board “fully supports this move.”

Although DCPL Director of Marketing and Communications Monica Lewis declined to discuss specifics, she told American Libraries that “a number of personnel changes have been made” as “a first step in the transformation of how library services are delivered” and with the full backing of the board. Lewis emphasized that Cooper “was in no way, at all, whatsoever involved with any of these transitional organization changes.”

According to the Post, the five people dismissed from DCPL are: Se’an Crumley, head of information and technology systems; Jewel Ogonji, head librarian at DCPL’s main facility; Angela Purnell, assistant library director for administrative and operational services; Yema Tucker, head of collection development and management; and Barbara Webb, head of neighborhood services.

Crumley told AL, “I was surprised by the decision and I am disappointed not to have the chance to work with such an icon [Cooper] in the public library field.”

In January, a task force appointed by Mayor Anthony A. Williams called for more than $450 million in improvements to the system, including a new headquarters library and replacement of half its collection. In June, Hill and DCPL union officials testified at a city council hearing in favor of the sale of the present central library building and the construction of a $207-million facility at the site of the city’s old convention center—an action that a local group, the DC Library Renaissance Project, opposes.

Posted July 21, 2006.