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Library Director Leaving Post Friday Under Dark Cloud

Patricia Lambert will end her seven-year run as director on Friday after trustees denied a contract renewal after June 2012.

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,, 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 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 librarytrustees@dedham-ma.gov.

Maryellen Murphy September 16, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Interesting comment. Perhaps if you followed the Town of Dedham and the Trustees of the Library more closely you'd know that they have shown great interest in Mrs. Ingemi's career for many years now. They have a vested interest in her as they contributed to her tuition over the years to get her to this place in time. Maybe you should attend a few trustee meetings, they are open to the public and then you'd be more informed. I believe the Library will be getting the leadership it's been lacking for the last several years. Way to go indeed Dedham!
Gary Roberts September 19, 2011 at 03:02 PM
There is a long history of public libraries promoting from within for the position of Director. The rationale is excellent. Often, there is an experienced Librarian who knows the community, the collection, the staff, the past and future needs of the Library and the ins and outs of the Town government. Holding an MLS or MLIS is not a measure of qualification as an MLS is a generalist degree. It's the work experience that qualifies someone for the job. Working on an MLS is an indication of intent of improvement and professionalism. Before the Board spends considerable time and effort in searching for a new Director, I would strongly advise that they decide what they want from a Director and then review Ms. Ingemi's qualifications for the position. From what I know of her, they could do no better.
Timothy Robertson September 20, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Clarification: Comments made by the user Maryellen Murphy are not those of Mariellen Murphy, the town's finance director.
Ward September 23, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Gary Roberts has summarized the Director's position very well and his comment as to Lisa Ingemi's qualifications are spot on. She has the education, experience and the temperment to do the job well. Yes, the town could do no better.
Bob Desmond December 31, 2011 at 01:57 AM
More than likely the trustees will hire from out of town someone that pays no taxes and would not have the time to advocate for Dedham's library, something that is badly needed .

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