Gary Library Board votes to lay off workers

2012-01-30T22:00:00Z Gary Library Board votes to lay off workersBY LU ANN FRANKLIN Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 30, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

GARY | Layoffs of Gary Public Library employees will become effective March 1, said Tony Walker, president of the Gary Public Library Board.

The board adopted a reorganization plan authored by Library Director Otis Alexander in a 4-2 vote at a special meeting Monday at the former main library, which will become the South Shore Cultural Center and Museum.

Trustees Sadie Sheffield and Nancy Valentine voted against the resolution.

Action on the reorganization plan was deferred from the Jan. 24 meeting because the board needed more information from the library director.

Alexander slashed the 2012 library budget by 53 percent, taking it from $5.7 million to $2.679 million. To do that, 15 full-time employees and nine part-time employees will lose their jobs.

"Some may be eligible for the five part-time positions that we are creating," Walker said. "We are also repurposing five full-time positions."

Three of repurposed positions will come from the main library's public relations department and two from the financial department.

The public relations department employees have been working as archivists, curators and materials conservationists. They will be assigned to the new conservation and curation department, Walker said.

The South Shore Cultural Center and Museum will be staffed by three employees assisted by volunteers, he said.

Dwindling revenue from property taxes has been discussed by the board for more than a year and resulted in this action, Walker said.

He also announced the four branch libraries will extend their hours, and have more staff and more resources. The Brunswick, De Bois, Kennedy and Woodson branch libraries will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

In addition, Walker said the cultural center will have computers and a library component, emphasizing archives and collections. The materials will not be circulated.

The actions taken by the Library Board might be challenged.

Questions arose about whether Monday's meeting was legal during the public comment portion. Gary residents Linda Peterson and Richard Barnes said the Indiana Open Door Law requires publication in the media 48 hours before any public meeting, excluding Saturdays and Sundays and legal holidays.

Walker said only notice on the building in which the meeting is held is needed.

Indiana Code 5-14-1.5 states, "Public notice shall be given by the governing body of a public agency by: (1) posting a copy of the notice at the principal office of the public agency holding the meeting or, if no such office exists, at the building where the meeting is to be held; and (2) delivering notice to all news media which deliver by Jan. 1 an annual written request for such notices for the next succeeding calendar year to the governing body of the public agency."

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