By a four to three vote with one abstention, the New City Library Board of Trustees approved the start of contract negotiations with the candidate put forward by the New Director Search Committee. During the lengthy Thursday night meeting, trustees questioned whether the prospective director possessed enough experience for the position and criticized the scarcity of background materials such as letters of reference.
“We have no information,” said Trustee Ed Kallen.
Board President Tom Ninan, who chaired the search committee, said, “We did our work, what we were assigned to do.”
The committee’s candidate, Tracey Simon, has been the director of the Floral Park, NY Library for three and a half years. The library has a budget of $1.5 million, and between 23 and 25 fulltime employees and 16 part time staffers. The New City Library budget is just over $5 million. The specific number of New City Library employees was not readily available Thursday but there are between 60 and 70 full-time and part-time employees plus substitute workers.
22 candidates applied for the director position, which has been vacant since May 2012. Marianne Silver served as interim director from May until December and then stepped down to return to her regular position.
The committee selected four candidates. The field was narrowed to three and two were interviewed using SKYPE. The committee wanted to interview the two finalists in person and met with Simon. Although the board authorized $1,500 to fly the other finalist in from Texas, the candidate was unavailable to do until March. Ninan said that was too long to wait.
Trustee Jeffrey Greenberg, who opposed beginning contract negotiations, suggested the board seek an interim director who was not employed at the library. Other board members disputed the need for that.
A motion to table hiring Simon tied 4-4 with Ninan casting the vote that defeated it.
“It’s the greatest moment of my life here. And I’m going to use it to my advantage as much as I can,” said Ninan. “We do not want to be known as a dysfunctional library any longer. And I’m voting in favor of not tabling this.”
The board’s attorney and chair of the personnel and treasurer were authorized to enter into negotiations with Simon. Trustee Victor Berger stated the terms of the contract have to be approved by the board.