Birmingham Library Board Meets Again Monday; Controversy Over Council Continues

Library Executive Director Floyd Council talks with library trustee Kimberly Richardson in May 2018. (Source: Jackie Romine Walburn)

Amid an ongoing controversy about Executive Director Floyd Council, the Birmingham Public Library’s board of trustees has called a special meeting for Monday at 4:30 p.m.

The subject of the meeting has not yet been officially confirmed, but this year has seen a series of special called meetings to discuss Council’s performance. He started the job in November and his one-year probationary period is slated to end before the board’s next regular meeting, on Nov. 13.

At this month’s regularly scheduled meeting of the board, on Oct. 9, approximately 20 Birmingham Public Library employees said they had experienced a “hostile” work environment during Council’s first year in office. Through a spokeswoman, Monica King-Slater, they told the board that they had been “berated and treated like children in front of other employees and patrons.”

Council described the employees at the meeting as “extreme outliers” who were unrepresentative of the BPL’s 287-person staff. “Sometimes people will develop a coalition because what they want is a scandal,” he said.

The board of trustees remained undecided about Council’s future with the BPL, spending several minutes in a private, executive session before deciding that the matter would need “further discussion” with legal counsel.

Criticism of Council is not a new development. Public arguments against Council’s leadership prompted board President James Sullivan to survey employee morale in May. “Whatever they say, we are going to address and take appropriate action,” Sullivan said.

The survey found that morale was low, with employees expressing concerns over internal communications and Council’s removal of security personnel from the lobby of the BPL’s Central Branch. Even so, board members told Council that he had their support later that month.

The board met again Sept. 11 to discuss a grievance against one of the employees governed by the board. Though the board didn’t take any action after that meeting, there are only two employees who report directly to the board — Council and Deputy Director Sandra Lee. <a href=” “> Read more.</a>

Birmingham Public Library Atmosphere ‘Toxic’ ‘Hostile,’ Employees Say. Leadership ‘Not for Faint of Heart,’ New Director Responds.