February 17, 2018

Gary Director Resigns; Board Member Recalled

Otis Alexander resigned as director of the Gary Public Library only five months after taking the position, according to GaryCommunity.com.

Alexander’s resignation will be effective May 1. Diana Morrow, head librarian at the system’s DuBois branch, has been named acting library director, and Library Board of Trustees President Tony Walker said he hoped Morrow would be named interim director at the next board meeting. Alexander will help with the transition.

Walker cited tensions between Alexander and library union employees as a contributing factor to the latter’s resignation. The library was forced to make drastic cuts after its tax revenue was halved, primarily due to a tax cap, including closing the main library and turning it into a museum. However, the union objected to Alexander’s plan for staff reductions, characterizing it as union busting and threatening to file a grievance, as LJ reported. Ultimately, a different plan was adopted.

But clashes with the union weren’t Alexander’s only problem. Indeed, his bigger headache may have been clashes with the board itself. GaryCommunity.com quoted Alexander as saying, “this has been a horrific experience.” The Gary Crusader quoted him as saying, “I don’t know why they brought me here and are so hands on. They might as well do everything themselves. I am physically sick from all of this.” He added, “I have not seen a budget, any renovation plans or sustainable planning” for the museum.

LJ could not immediately reach Alexander or Morrow for comment.

About 3,500 residents, led by former Library Board President Ben Coleman, signed petitions opposing the closure of the main library and demanding the recall of board members who voted for the closure. They succeeded in having Lake County Council’s board appointee Cynthia Watts, who voted for the closure, removed from the board after 15 years of tenure, according to the Post-Tribune. A replacement for Watts has not yet been appointed.


Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.