Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Council Fills Two Library Board Seats Amid Controversy

Birmingham Public Library (Source: Encyclopedia of Alabama)

The Birmingham City Council appointed two new members to the city’s Library Board by unanimous vote this week, including a replacement for the board’s longest-serving member.

Wardine Alexander, the former president for the Birmingham Board of Education, will replace Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch, who has been on the Library Board since 2002. Welch had been appointed to the board for three five-year terms, despite the library board’s bylaws prohibiting members from serving more than two consecutive terms.

Speaking after Tuesday’s meeting, Council President Valerie Abbott described Welch’s third appointment to the board as a violation of the law by the City Council, then led by Roderick Royal, to reward “people and their relationships” with the council.

“They didn’t even provide the justification (for) violating our own rules,” she said.

Royal and Welch, who served as president of the board from 2009 to 2012, did not respond to requests for comment.

Alexander served on the board of education from 2013 to 2017, when she lost her bid for re-election to Patricia McAdory.

Sherri Nielson will replace Dora Sims on the Library Board. Sims had served on the board since 2010. Nielson was as an executive administrative assistant under Mayor William Bell, with her position focusing on capital and special projects.

These appointments come amid growing criticism of the city’s library system — including considerable dissatisfaction from library employees over new Executive Director Floyd Council.