At the Nov. 18 meeting of the Brookfield Public Library board, resident Eileen Piper Simpson handed the board petitions signed by 216 people demanding that the library board investigate the firing of the former head of the youth services department Cindy Moriarity and that the board hold library Director Kimberly Litland
Before the petitions were given to the board, five people spoke in support of Moriarity while Jane Huber, the president of the Friends of the Library, spoke in support of Litland.
After the public comment period was over the library board immediately went into closed session, with its attorney present, for 100 minutes.
The library board emerged with a statement that seems clearly intended to end the controversy over the September firing of Moriarity.
“We acknowledge the community’s input,” said library board President Dianne Duner. “We have evaluated the facts and circumstances of the termination of Cindy Moriarity. The board supports the decision and considers the matter closed. We are initiating a careful review of the personnel handbook and are evaluating whether changes are appropriate.”
Duner refused to say anything more about the issue.
Both Duner and board personnel committee chairman Jonathan Platt have said that Litland did not consult with them before firing Moriarity on morning of Sept. 8. According to the library’s personnel handbook the library director, who has the authority to fire any library employee, is to consult with the board president and the chairperson of the personnel committee before terminating an employee.
Both the library board’s policy and personnel committees met in November to review the library’s personnel policies and procedures.
Among ideas discussed were having the library board formally approve every hire, possibly eliminating the provision in the handbook calling on the library director to consult with the board president and personnel committee chairperson before terminating an employee, and having library staff evaluate the director.
The firing of Moriarity angered many library users. The petitions presented to the board, which were signed by 201 adults and 15 children, stated that Litland “has demonstrated poor judgment in her decisions to recommend the purchase of land and to fire Cindy Moriarity, a valuable library employee.”
Two years ago the library hoped to buy five houses in the Hollywood section of Brookfield and hoped to tar them down and build a new library.
Litland, while declining to comment on Moriarity’s firing, took exception to the charge that the land acquisition was her idea. Litland, in an interview with the Landmark, said the impetus for that effort came from the board.
“Any library trustee would gladly confirm for Mrs. Simpson that the idea for land purchases came from a member of the board rather than from me as library director,” Litland said. “It’s deeply regrettable that an effort such as this would be made to spread misunderstanding.”
Piper Simpson, a former member of the library’s citizens advisory board, said that she personally opposed including any reference to the land acquisition in the petitions. She said that she was troubled that Litland had not responded to her or other residents at a library board meeting. She said many wonder why Litland has not responded in public.
“My comments have been made to the board and Ms. Litland in public forum and she chooses to respond to newspapers reporters for me to read in my favorite Wednesday newspaper,” Piper Simpson said. “It is interesting to me that she chose not to request permission to respond to me at the public forum, but is choosing to respond to me in the newspaper.”
Platt said that the library board and staff should welcome public comment.
“We all need to encourage comment and criticism from the community in order to correct whatever mistakes we have made so that we can continue to move the library forward,” Platt said.
Piper Simpson had a concise reaction to the board’s statement that the matter is closed.
“I will be calling my elected officials to discuss their decision,” Piper Simpson said.