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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.

domenic stagno September 14, 2011 at 06:52 PM
What did the Library Director mean when she said that "censorship is alive and well here in Dedham"? What kind of censoring has gone on in the town, taxpayers need to know! What is she referring to "toxic attitude"? Were books being censored? I would like to know!
A D Manning September 14, 2011 at 08:09 PM
I find it interesting that the board of Trustees would canvass the attendees for their input . Isn't it their job to create the policy and the qualifications needed to get the job ? Do any of these trustees have a clue as to what a director does? Why did the interim position go to a relative of the former chairman? Is she receiving the same salary as the former director? This is just like a car wreck! Way to go Dedham!
Paul Dobbs September 14, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Hello Domenic Stagno, She's still on the job until Friday, so you could certainly ask her your questions directly. I think the "toxic atmosphere" perspective seems understandable when you read the past news coverage of the library trustee meetings. I will enquire myself about the censorship issue.
Paul Dobbs September 15, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Hello A. D. Manning, The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and most professional librarians would agree that reaching out to library patrons and the public at large for input in such a process would fall within "best practices." One can never gather too much consumer input. The challenge is deciding how to interpret it and then what action to take. From attending the last two meetings, I can say that the trustees have actually done a lot of homework and have a very good sense of what a public library director does. The challenge seems to reside in the next steps.
Patricia Lambert September 15, 2011 at 11:55 AM
Good morning to both Mr. Dobbs and Mr. Stago. The censorship issue refers to the Dlit facebook page. I posted a comment telling people to come and see that I was leaving. A selectman is a founding member of DLit, and 2 Library Board members also belong to this group. This is a group that (yes I cut and copied from their page) Dedham LIT is a circle of dedicated citizens whose mission is to create best-in-class, state-of-the-art libraries in Dedham. We believe that libraries can and should be vibrant "community centers" - where we celebrate and nurture learning, arts, culture and community development. I went to see if the comment was there and it was --- for an hour. Then it was removed. This is not the first time this group has taken down comments not fully aligned with their "goal". Which is to say, if anyone supported the Director that post was not made public. As for the toxic atmosphere, PLEASE read the news coverage of the Library for the past 18onths.
Avon Barksdale September 15, 2011 at 12:04 PM
Calling the removal of a comment from a privately run web page "censorship" insults everyone who fights actual censorship.
Kristen Overman September 15, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Dear Mrs. Lambert, Please check your security settings on Facebook. Perhaps you have it set up so only certain people may view what you've written. When I log in, I see the post notifying readers of the meeting and your comment as the following: Dedham Library Innovation Team The next Dedham Public Library Trustees meeting will be Monday, September 12th at 7:30pm at the Endicott Library. One of the agenda items will be to gather public input on the criteria for a new director. Please come and share your ideas. If you can't make the meeting, please email LibraryTrustees@dedham-ma.gov before Friday, September 23rd. You and Patricia Lambert like this. Patricia Lambert Yes, please do come. Tonight is the night you can see the result of your unending diatribe. Mrs. Lambert has left the building as of this meeting Monday at 10:44am · Like · 1 person Lisa Ingemi looking forward to lots of dialogue Monday at 3:19pm · Like Dedham Library Innovation Team We're looking forward to a positive and collaborative meeting. In the past year, DLIT has only been about promoting the libraries. Our greatest efforts were the volunteer program last fall and the One Book, One Dedham program last spring. We find it unfortunate that you think this is somehow working against you. Best of luck in your new endeavors.
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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