The Dedham Library Trustees meeting Monday night opened with an uncomfortable goodbye and closed with a genial, hopeful hello. In between, the trustees worked hard to achieve consensus on procedural issues.
Early in the meeting, outgoing director Patricia Lambert, whose seven-year employment will end this Friday, delivered her last report to the trustees.
She spoke only a few minutes, tying up loose ends with a laundry list of tasks for trustees to complete including a fund transfer, a payroll delivery, and instructions on when and how to retrieve the keys to her office.
Then she declared without explanation that “censorship is alive and well in Dedham,” and that she didn’t thrive here and found the atmosphere “somewhat toxic.”
“For all the good we do here, everyone seems to focus on the bad,” she said.
She wished the board good luck, and said, “Without further adieu, I will say adieu,” suddenly rising to depart the meeting and the Endicott Branch Library through a rear door.
Lambert's contract with the town expires in June 2012, and it was not renewed by the board in June. Trustees and Lambert have told Dedham Patch that they were working on a severance agreement.
In contrast, 90 minutes later, the meeting concluded with mood of relative calm and optimism.
The board emerged from a closed-door executive session, and chair Joseph D’Amico offered the position of acting library director to library staff member Lisa Ingemi.
Noting that there were yet some details that she and D’Amico thought they could easily work out, Ingemi accepted the short-term appointment.
The board and public attendees broke into applause, and many expressed their well wishes. Ingemi will assume oversight of the library operations on Monday.
The plan is for her to continue until the trustees identify and appoint an interim director with more senior credentials, who will oversee the libraries until a permanent director will be appointed in several months’ time.
The road to Ingemi’s appointment was not direct.
Trustees debated at length first whether their own chair should serve, without compensation, as the acting director, an option suggested by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, trustee Mike Chalifoux said, and then whether it was legal under the public meeting law to go into executive session to discuss the candidates for the position of acting director.
Responding to many audience requests that the trustees distinguish their own role versus from that of the director, D’Amico said, “The board sets policies, the director carries them out.”
Chalifoux cited the MBLC’s three goals for library boards: “to write policy, get financing, and advocate for the library.”
Trustee Rachel Tuerck conducted a brainstorming session, distributing and collecting the public's suggestions for the library director’s job description. Anyone with additional suggestions should submit them by email as soon as possible to firstname.lastname@example.org.