Library Personnel Committee Meets in Closed Session, Will Report to Library Board Next Month

Floyd Council, executive director, Birmingham Public Library

The Personnel Committee of the Birmingham Public Library board of trustees met in closed session Thursday to discuss personnel matters but will not make its findings public until a written report is shared with the full board before its May 8 meeting.

Committee Chairman Scott Vowell said the committee met in private following the advice of attorney Veronica Merritt of the city of Birmingham’s legal department. Details on the discussions cannot be released to the public at this time because of employee privacy and legal considerations, said Vowell, a retired circuit court judge who has served on the library board since 2011. But the committee will make a written report to the full board about its discussions and recommendations, he said.

Normally all board and committee meetings for the library are open to the public.

The full board met Tuesday in an executive session called to discuss what the board’s attorney called “complaints and possible litigation involving an employee under the supervision of the library board.”

Both executive sessions followed pointed public criticism of the library’s new executive director, Floyd Council, by some library employees. The criticisms were made in comments posted on a March 22 Iron City Ink article about Council. The comments have since been removed by the site’s publisher.

In addition, an online survey was sent to the Birmingham Public Library’s 285 employees last week, asking about staff morale and seeking feedback from employees. Board President James Sullivan said a survey already had been planned as part of the board’s strategic plan. However, concerns about complaints helped prompt last week’s survey.

The review and internal sharing of the results of the employee surveys will be guided by the board’s Long-Range Planning Committee, which is chaired by board member Kimberly Richardson, Sullivan said Tuesday evening. The board’s strategic plan outlines the survey review and reporting process, he said.

Selected by the trustees after a 16-month search, Council has served the city’s library system as executive director since November 2017. He most recently worked in administration at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library system.