Birmingham Library Trustees Expected to Discuss Executive Director’s Performance in Executive Session Tuesday

Birmmingham Public Library (Source: Friends of the Birmingham Public Library)

Birmingham Public Library’s board of trustees is expected to go into executive session during its meeting Tuesday afternoon as members are set to discuss a six-month performance review of new library leader Floyd Council.

If the executive session is called as expected by board attorney Veronica Merritt, it will be the third executive session conducted to discuss issues surrounding Council since complaints about his leadership went public last month. The board went into a closed-door executive session April 10 to discuss the issues, and the Personnel Committee followed suit two days later. Normally, all board and committee meetings for the library are open to the public.

Merritt said last week that she expects to advise the trustees to go into executive session at Tuesday’s meeting to talk about Council’s performance because of employee privacy and legal considerations. She also said the library board’s Personnel Committee executive session April 12 ended with a list of recommendations and action items to be taken to the full board Tuesday.

At a meeting last week of the library board’s long-term planning committee, Chairwoman Kimberly Richardson said all library employees are subject to a one-year probationary period, with an evaluation being made at the six-month mark. Council, who was hired in mid-November, is the only employee who reports directly to the board of trustees. Richardson said the last executive director, Angela Fisher Hall, was terminated after her one-year probationary evaluation in 2016.

The planning committee last week also reviewed highlights of an employee survey conducted the week of April 6. The survey showed continuing low morale among library employees, who expressed concerns about internal communications, security and a lack of knowledge about the library’s complaint and grievance process for employees.

At the May 2 committee meeting, trustees advised Council to communicate regularly and directly with all library employees, not just managers. Committee members Willie Davis III, Eunice Rogers and Gwendolyn Amamoo urged Council to consider regular written communications with all employees and to make a priority of meeting staff at all levels and branches. “Err on the side of overcommunication,” Richardson advised.

All library trustees were expected to receive copies of the employee survey results in advance of or at Tuesday’s board meeting, Richardson said.

Selected by the trustees after a 16-month search, Council most recently worked in administration at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.