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A New Day for D.C. Libraries?

Every time it appears there's a prospect of massive reform in the District's sad public library system, you can pretty much bet those hopes will be dashed. The system finally got the money to renovate its most decrepit branches, and it promptly closed those branches and let those neighborhoods go without libraries--for years. The system at last won major attention from the mayor and the council, along with a willingness to spend big money, and the library administration came up with plans for new branches that would be smaller and less useful than the existing places.

Now, with an ambitious reform plan finally in the works, the D.C. library is hiring a new director, and whom did they choose? Well, here's how the New York Daily News reported the departure of Ginnie Cooper, the director of the Brooklyn Public Library and Washington's new books chief:

The Brooklyn Public Library's embattled executive director is about to step down from her high-paying gig, the Daily News has learned.

"I'm sure there won't be a whole lot of tears in Brownsville over her departure," said Councilman Charles Barron (D-East New York).

In November, the Daily News reported Cooper was forced to return $27,000 in pay after auditors found she had taken more than six weeks of vacation not allowed in her contract.

Not only that, but Cooper tried to take a fancy, $20,000 trip on public dollars, as the News and the New York Sun reported.

How could this be? Why would the D.C. Library's new and energetic board settle for a loser rather than recruit a top-notch librarian to supervise the remake of the city's system? One problem is that the D.C. government has such a difficult reputation that few top-shelf administrators are eager to come here. Another is that the D.C. libraries are in such sorry shape that the nation's best library chiefs see it as a lost cause. But as any veteran of bureaucracies knows, there's always a terrific opportunity when you take over an institution that's perceived to have hit bottom; there's nowhere to go but up and you're poised to get the credit for that improvement.

So there is no excuse whatsoever for giving the new libraries boss an obscenely high salary--a pay level that soars above that of the mayor and police chief. As municipal watchdog Dorothy Brizill reports this morning at dcwatch.com, Cooper is going to be paid $205,000 a year, a shocking increase from the $120,000 paid to the D.C. system's last director, Molly Raphael.

Aside from her difficulties in Brooklyn, Cooper is apparently a creative and respected library boss, so perhaps she can grab onto this system and help push it into a new era of improved branches, a revitalized staff and a new central library downtown to replace the virtually unusable King library. But the libraries in this city have unusually few friends and the politics surrounding the system are vicious and anything but helpful. It would have been far better to bring in someone without a whole lot of baggage, someone coming off a successful run elsewhere. But this is what we have, and given the new resources that the system has, and the energy of a new and high-profile board, there's still reason for hope. A little, anyway.

By Marc Fisher |  May 22, 2006; 7:45 AM ET
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Comments

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I don't think the DC libraries have hit the absolute bottom. It can get worse.

This new director sounds like she'll fit in well here; she certainly belives in taking all the perks of office and then some. Ah well, more for Marc to wax wroth about.

Posted by: md 20/400 | May 22, 2006 10:52 AM

Arlington County Libraries: I reserve a book online like I'm buying one at Amazon. Have it sent to the branch near my office. The computer calls my cell phone when it's there. I pick it up. I drive home to DC.

Until the DC libraries allow me to browse, choose and reserve books entirely online and either call me, text me, or email me when the books arrive, they suck.

Posted by: Don | May 22, 2006 10:52 AM

The DC Board of Library Trustees could not be more thrilled with its choice of Ginnie Cooper to lead the DC Public Library's massive reform. She has a proven track record of making major positive change at every system she has led. Our search process was very thorough and exhaustive. As a result of the actions of the Mayor and the DC Council to make the reform of the DC Public Library an important priority and the hard work of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Panel and the Library Board of Trustees we were able to attract the best librarians in the country as candidates for this position. It is time we all look to a much brighter future for our citizens through the reformed, expanded and exciting services our library system will be able to offer. I hope everyone will join with Ginnie ,the Library Board and the hard working staff of the DC Public Library to make DC's Public Library System the best in the country.

Posted by: John W Hill , President DC Public Library Board of Trustees | May 22, 2006 11:15 AM

I wanted to warn you Marc, before you took another sip of the Library Board's KoolAid. You seem to believe that the current revitalization effort is firmly on track. Unfortunately, it is becoming clear that the effort is running aground. It is unlikely that even the four temporary libraries will be open before the new school year starts. In fact, the effort to put chain link fencing around the four, now dangerous, closed branch libraries is behind schedule. Rather than get the revitalization effort on track, the mayoral cronies are trying just to make believe that everything is fine. I am sure that there are plenty of librarians that would like to take on the challenge of building a excellent system for the District, particularly since it has an enviable budget surplus. Unfortunately, the Library Board has not been able to show that it has the combination of vision, resources and political backing to guarantee the long-term success of such an effort. Thus, they had to settle for a librarian who had been eased out of a number of prominant library systems. Oh, and by the way, the only reason that the MLK Library seems unusable is because no one in the administration has been willing to try to make it usable over the past eight years.

Posted by: PM | May 22, 2006 12:53 PM

While I do not work for a public library (although I've done substitute work in the past), this is a pattern I've seen with both libraries and school systems. Anytime you settle for a "bad penny" as it were (like in Prince Georges County recently) you deserve what you get.

While the residents of DC deserve far better, the Board of Trustees will get what they deserve.

Posted by: LongTimeLibrarian | May 22, 2006 1:21 PM

Mr. Hill,

I'm a current DC resident, taxpayer, and occasional patron of DC's public libraries. I cannot help but read your post with anything but skepticism. Of course you're thrilled by the appointment of Ms. Cooper--she is your choice and her qualifications reflect how well you've done your job. Unfortunately, media reports that cannot be ignored have raised a number of issues regarding Ms. Cooper. These issues are of serious concern to myself and many other DC residents and taxpayers. Would you please address these concerns, DC taxpayers deserve a response, and ignoring them does everyone a disservice.

1) Were you aware that within recent months Ms. Cooper had scheduled a lavish $20,000.00 "fact finding"junket to Hong Kong and Singapore that former Brooklyn library board President Lucille Thomas denounced as an "imprudent" waste of taxpayer money?

2) Were you aware that a routine audit conducted during 2005 revealed Ms. Cooper had taken six weeks of vacation time beyond what her contract allowed, and that she had to return $27,000 as a result of the findings of this audit?

3) Given that these discrepencies were found by a "routine" audit only, did you do any further audits or investigation?

4) If you were aware of these instances of poor judgment (or even fraud) by Ms. Cooper, how and why did you decide to overlook them?

Everyone who has visited a DC library knows that the library system is in poor condition, and is poorly managed. Although I believe DC residents deserve a DC library leader who can lead and make improvements, DC residents also deserve a library leader with an outstanding reputation, and, at a minimum, somebody who does not have a history of wasting taxpayer money or engaging in other conduct that raises questions of trustworthiness.

Thankfully the Brooklyn library system exercised oversight and forced Ms. Cooper to right the serious wrongs delineated above. Right now, however I cannot expect the DC board to do the same, given that this same board has already chosen to overlook these wrongs, hire Ms. Cooper, and not offer DC residents and taxpayers an explanation of all of this.

Posted by: DC Taxpayer | May 22, 2006 1:24 PM

Ms. Cooper's performance in Brooklyn does not support DC library board's decision to hire her.

During Ms. Cooper's tenure in Brooklyn, surveys of library users in New York City's three library systems (Brooklyn, New York City, and Queens) consistently rated Brooklyn's library system in last place. Ms. Cooper consistently attempted to excuse the poor performance of the Brooklyn system as the result of funding cuts. Her excuses are hardly believable since both the City's and Queens' library systems were also allocated the same budget cuts/increases as Brooklyn.

Ms. Cooper's track record in Brooklyn is that she finished third in a three system race, or more directly, she was the worst leader of NYC's public library systems.

The hiring of Ms. Cooper also indicates that the DC library board places very little weight on the opinions of library users, since, if they had listened to the many dissatisfied Brooklyn library users, the DC board would not have hired Ms. Cooper.

I suppose the only qualification Ms. Cooper brings to DC is that she has a lot of practice blaming funding cuts for all the library system's problems (even when it's obvious to everybody else that poor management is to blame), which is the DC library leadership's favorite and excessively over-used excuse.

Posted by: DF | May 22, 2006 1:58 PM

i have yet to hear you say anything even remotely kind about the public library system in dc. do you even use the library? it seems to be one of your favorite digs. it has its problems, but things aren't nearly as bad as you like to portray them in this blog of yours. what ideas do you have for improving the system? we could use more than your complaints everytime you write something about us.

Posted by: t | May 22, 2006 2:35 PM

6 weeks of vacation, beyond what was specified in her contract? An entry-level librarian in Brooklyn gets 3 weeks of vacation. So did this mean that Ms. Cooper spend over 9 weeks on vacation in Brooklyn last year? Seems like a lot for any leader not named George W. Bush.

Posted by: H | May 22, 2006 3:44 PM

Hey, cut Bush some slack. He needs a lot of vacation time to clear brush and trap critters on that damn ranch of his!

Posted by: balls | May 22, 2006 4:26 PM

I agree with Don. I was a regular, if frustrated, user of the D.C. libraries. When I moved from DC to Baltimore, I was shocked that I could (1) reserve online, (2) have the book delivered to my local branch, (3) receive an immediate phone call and NOT a postcard I addressed myself and paid for when it arrived and (4) return the book to any branch I want. That seems to be basic 21st century library practice.

Posted by: Sally | May 22, 2006 5:15 PM

It is sad to read the above opinions, since they are much based on lies and distortion. I have been at the Brooklyn Public Library before Ms. Cooper arrived and have become, skeptically at first, one of her biggest fans. And please be assured that I am at the same unionized level now as I was when Ginnie Cooper began at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Yes, it is true that Ginnie Cooper was not popular with everyone. Her biggest problem was not being popular with certain members of our Board of Trustees, most of who are political appointees who don't know a thing about libraries, and certain writers at the New York Daily News, hardly a paper of respectability. There was a definite smear campaign against her that unfortunately included lies and half truths. Yes, it is true that she was found to be in excess of her vacation time, but, she had cleared this with some of the board members beforehand, and, if she was so intent on getting away with time violation, why did she mark the time down in the first place. Yes, it is true that Ginnie Cooper was scheduled to go on a trip to Singapore, but it was an Urban Libraries Council sponsored trip, which included the heads of many important urban systems, and it did not cost $20,000. (You should ask yourself why this was neglected in the Daily News article). She was not the only staff member going, and the head of the trip was a former director of the Brooklyn Public Library, Martin Gomez.

I would like to remind DC residents of the good things Ginnie Cooper has accomplished. While at Brooklyn Public Library, Ginnie Cooper has advanced early literacy with the creation of Brooklyn Reads to Babies, so now there are baby, toddler, and preschool programs at all 59 of our branches. While at Brooklyn, Ginnie Cooper created the following initiatives as part of our campaign to "make the library easier to do business with": she made it easier to get a library card, easier to renew a book, she made check out policies uniform, she put in a more efficient, faster, holds system, she put wireless capabilities in all of our branches, she made collection policy uniform, she commenced a systemwide inventory project on a scale that no other public library has ever attempted, and she increased the book and media budgets. While at Brooklyn, she has made the causes of intellectual freedom vital and she has made sure every staff member, from custodian to clerk to librarian understands this.

What survey of library users is the above poster talking about? For the best survey is circulation rates, and the circulation went up every year Ginnie Cooper was at the Brooklyn Public Library. The library has more users than ever before. We have never had higher circulation, more money donated, more attendance at our programs, and more national recognition from library leaders across the country. Our summer reading attendance went up 200% last summer, which was much higher than our colleagues at Queens or New York Public Libraries. We now have people calling us to ask what we are doing--a new phenomenon for Brooklyn.

Additionally, when Ginnie Cooper came to Brooklyn, she immediately cut many useless executive positions that former directors had created. We once an assistant director and three deputy directors, and Ginnie Cooper cut it down to a chief of staff and two deputy directors. This occurred across the board in many of our departments. The organization is no longer as top heavy as it was when Ms. Cooper started here. She has diversified our top management, so now we have women and people of color in top positions in Human Resources, Neighborhood Services, Collection Development, Development, Marketing, and, the second in charge of the Brooklyn Public Library is an African American women who is under forty years of age.

I will be honest and say there are things that Ginnie Cooper needs to improve. Ginnie Cooper does need to improve her public demeanor. She needs to acknowledge what people think of you is important. She needs to defend herself and not think herself as above criticism. She needs to communicate more directly to staff and users, and not just send her employees to pass on her message.

DC Public is very lucky. Ginnie Cooper will turn it around. It is Brooklyn that is the biggest loser, since we are left with a useless Board of Trustees, whose members commonly put their interests above the interests of the people of Brooklyn.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2006 5:51 PM

It is sad to read the above opinions, since they are much based on lies and distortion. I have been at the Brooklyn Public Library before Ms. Cooper arrived and have become, skeptically at first, one of her biggest fans. And please be assured that I am at the same unionized level now as I was when Ginnie Cooper began at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Yes, it is true that Ginnie Cooper was not popular with everyone. Her biggest problem was not being popular with certain members of our Board of Trustees, most of who are political appointees who don't know a thing about libraries, and certain writers at the New York Daily News, hardly a paper of respectability. There was a definite smear campaign against her that unfortunately included lies and half truths. Yes, it is true that she was found to be in excess of her vacation time, but, she had cleared this with some of the board members beforehand, and, if she was so intent on getting away with time violation, why did she mark the time down in the first place. Yes, it is true that Ginnie Cooper was scheduled to go on a trip to Singapore, but it was an Urban Libraries Council sponsored trip, which included the heads of many important urban systems, and it did not cost $20,000. (You should ask yourself why this was neglected in the Daily News article). She was not the only staff member going, and the head of the trip was a former director of the Brooklyn Public Library, Martin Gomez.

I would like to remind DC residents of the good things Ginnie Cooper has accomplished. While at Brooklyn Public Library, Ginnie Cooper has advanced early literacy with the creation of Brooklyn Reads to Babies, so now there are baby, toddler, and preschool programs at all 59 of our branches. While at Brooklyn, Ginnie Cooper created the following initiatives as part of our campaign to "make the library easier to do business with": she made it easier to get a library card, easier to renew a book, she made check out policies uniform, she put in a more efficient, faster, holds system, she put wireless capabilities in all of our branches, she made collection policy uniform, she commenced a systemwide inventory project on a scale that no other public library has ever attempted, and she increased the book and media budgets. While at Brooklyn, she has made the causes of intellectual freedom vital and she has made sure every staff member, from custodian to clerk to librarian understands this.

What survey of library users is the above poster talking about? For the best survey is circulation rates, and the circulation went up every year Ginnie Cooper was at the Brooklyn Public Library. The library has more users than ever before. We have never had higher circulation, more money donated, more attendance at our programs, and more national recognition from library leaders across the country. Our summer reading attendance went up 200% last summer, which was much higher than our colleagues at Queens or New York Public Libraries. We now have people calling us to ask what we are doing--a new phenomenon for Brooklyn.

Additionally, when Ginnie Cooper came to Brooklyn, she immediately cut many useless executive positions that former directors had created. We once an assistant director and three deputy directors, and Ginnie Cooper cut it down to a chief of staff and two deputy directors. This occurred across the board in many of our departments. The organization is no longer as top heavy as it was when Ms. Cooper started here. She has diversified our top management, so now we have women and people of color in top positions in Human Resources, Neighborhood Services, Collection Development, Development, Marketing, and, the second in charge of the Brooklyn Public Library is an African American women who is under forty years of age.

I will be honest and say there are things that Ginnie Cooper needs to improve. Ginnie Cooper does need to improve her public demeanor. She needs to acknowledge what people think of you is important. She needs to defend herself and not think herself as above criticism. She needs to communicate more directly to staff and users, and not just send her employees to pass on her message.

DC Public is very lucky. Ginnie Cooper will turn it around. It is Brooklyn that is the biggest loser, since we are left with a useless Board of Trustees, whose members commonly put their interests above the interests of the people of Brooklyn.

Posted by: Ginnie Cooper Supporter | May 22, 2006 5:51 PM

Note to Sally & Don: You can reserve a book online at DCPL. You can ask to have it sent to any branch. You can get an email the day it arrives. You can return it to any branch. Give it a try. What do you have to lose?

Posted by: Stan | May 22, 2006 7:02 PM

For all I know, Ginnie Cooper may walk on water. However, the Board of Trustees should address this matter beyond the content-free press release above.

It's not just citizen confidence in the Director that is at stake. Due to past mis-management of the city's libraries, and due to current anxieties over their direction, citizen confidence in the Board is at stake.

Posted by: Mark | May 22, 2006 11:21 PM

Count me as another DC resident who is not pleased with this hire. Potential DC Mayor candidates take note, I'll be watching how you handle this issue and voting accordingly.

Posted by: Russell | May 23, 2006 9:10 AM

No surprise, a self-proclaimed "biggest fan" of Ms. Cooper defends her record. But even this defense admits that Ms. Cooper was not popular in Brooklyn, and then blames the media for Ms. Cooper's unpopularity. In DC, these explanations are offered everyday, and residents don't buy them.

This is not a good start for Ms. Cooper (although its the usual business for DC board of trustees). I predict Ms. Cooper's tenure in DC will be 18-24 months, during which time no improvements or progress apparent to library users will be made (although there will be a lot of self-serving press releases), and then she'll be forced out by the board of trustees. She'll take with her about $350,000 of taxpayer "buyout" money. Of course the trustees forcing her out will be the same ones who were thrilled to hire her, and these same trustees will also select the next hard-to-justify candidate. Business as usual in DC government.

Posted by: DF | May 23, 2006 9:53 AM

Crumby library system hires a crumby new Director and pays her obscene money. Typical DC.

I hope you read this Marc, another example of your tax dollars going to waste. Give up Marc, move to VA. Things work there. Less crime, more services, less taxes, better police, better working bureacracy, etc. And you can save yourself 20 grand a year by putting your kids in public school. I have a friend that lives in DC and the only reason he does is so he can walk home from his bars. That's the only reason I can see to live in DC.

Posted by: Annandale, VA | May 23, 2006 3:04 PM

I am not a librarian, but a big library user. I live in Brooklyn, and have to say that I am sad to see Ms. Cooper go. I have noticed big changes since she came here to Brooklyn. I get my books much faster with a better holds system. Before Ms. Cooper, you could never put a hold on a film and every hold was a gamble. They would charge you money for a hold, and never refund it if your hold never arrived. My friend works in city government, and she said that Brooklyn is so political and Ms. Cooper was so naive about city politics. She supposedly was very popular in Portland, and turned Multnomah County into one of the top library systems in the country. Sadly, I did not know any of this until my friend told me.

Also, DF, I understand your frustrations, but I think you miss read Ginnie Cooper Supporter's post. He/she did not say that she was unpopular in Brooklyn, but just unpopular with the Board of Trustees and the New York Daily News. This is a big difference. Maybe, you should give her a chance. It is much less costly to be optimistic than to be a pessimist. Be the change you seek and make Ms. Cooper live up to the standards you want to see in DC. Make her deliver.

Also, someone posted that Brooklyn gets the same amount of money as the other two systems. This is not true. Brooklyn receives less money per capita than the other two systems do. Recently, New York State admitted it owed Brooklyn two million dollars in aid since it miscalculated Brooklyn's population. New York Public received millions of dollars from the dissolving of the Astor Fund. Queens library receiving money from a corrupt politician who funneled money into the their system much to the disadvantage of the other two.

It pays to have friends in local government, or else I might have thought the same way as the other posters. Also, I did not know about the lies and distortions from the Daily News. But having read the Daily News, I believe it. good luck in DC.

Posted by: Brooklynite | May 23, 2006 4:50 PM

I have been a public librarian for many years. Ginnie Cooper has a great reputation among librarians. D.C. is fortunate to have hired her. I admire her courage to take on this position.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 10:26 PM

As a staff member in the branches of Brooklyn Public Library, it is easy to say not many people will miss Ms. Cooper's departure. She has managed to decrease staff in branches, staff morale, and security. Her public accomplishments are great, and I will not dispute that, but the only staff that will miss her departure will be those who were part of the director's "Club Cronies." Her answer to not being able to hire staff in desperately understaffed branches is to take a $27,000 trip? Or plan for her and 2 other staff members at $20,000 to go to Hong Kong? That's 4 staff member's salaries here (sad, no?)

Ms. Cooper received a lot of flack for closing the Brownsville branch after a staff member lost her finger. The staff was ready to back her 100% on this decision. But her hand was forced to re-open the dangerous branch when she realized that questions would be raised regarding the lack of security in the BPL system. What a strong leader we have...

GOOD RIDDANCE!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2006 9:12 AM

Thank you, Washington DC, for getting Brooklyn out from under!

Posted by: jaded | May 24, 2006 11:34 PM

The "biggest fan" and the "Brooklynite" need to face reality ... Ms Cooper talks a great game but she is not a fair or good team player. As a past believer , I too listened to her talk about her work with the American Indian and how much she was looking forward to working in "diverse" Brooklyn. I have now faced reality that "diverse" might have meant "little M******ah. All of that County came with Ms Cooper to Brooklyn and she did not once move out of her comfort zone to get to know the multi lingual, multi ethic, american and immigrant staff who have worked for three years to make her resume look wonderful. I am sad that she is leaving because I bought into the fantasy...I am glad to see her go because I think that the staff and people of Brooklyn deserve more and I know that we can do much better.
I applaud those members of the Board of Trustees who were mature and honest enough to admit that Ms Cooper was not a good choice for Brooklyn.
I pray that your next choice is better!

Posted by: Prayer | May 25, 2006 8:16 PM

As a former employee of Ms. Cooper, my sympathy goes to the staff of the DC Public Library. Prepare for your morale and sense of security to go lower than you could have imagined. Character shows in large ways and small.

Posted by: Former Cooper Employee | May 26, 2006 11:01 PM

D.C. is very, very lucky to have her. There's a history of problems in the library system there, and there are very few people who would be able to walk into that job and make a dent at all. You've just gotten one of the very few library leaders who can make a difference. She did a wonderful job in Portland, and made big changes in Brooklyn. Yes, she will stir up controversy, and yeah, maybe you won't like her personally. But if you wanted a milquetoast to mantain the status quo, I'm sure there were many lined up to take the job. Quit whining and prepare for a better library system. And maybe try to show some support too.

Posted by: Another former employee | May 27, 2006 3:57 PM

There are some more things you might want to know about Ginnie Cooper's tenure in Brooklyn. That she failed to live up to her obligation by breaking her contract is not the first time she compromised. As executive director of the Multonomah County library in Oregon, she was a lead plaintiff in the suit challenging the Children's Internet Protection Act. That law required libraries install imprecise filters on library computers as a condition of receiving federal funds for technology. When the Supreme Court upheld the law, Cooper quickly caved though other library systems stood their ground and found funds elsewhere. By the way, she wound up marrying one of the of the county commissioners in Multonomah County who voted to hire her there.
Ginnie established as a goal in Brooklyn increasing the number of library card holders. Shortly after she presented the goal to the Boroklyn Library Board of Trustees, she unilaterally dropped the mininum age requirement for cardholders, reaching her goal by giving cards to two-month olds!
She was hired in Brooklyn in part on the strength of her fund-raising ability. During her tenure, proceeds of the library's annual fund-raising dinner actually declined. Is it any wonder the president of the library's fund-raising foundation resigned shortly after Ginnie quit? The foundation president wouldn't have survived.
That Ginnie was having difficulty with some trustees and some media is no excuse for her breaking her contract.
I hope the Trustees of the DC library system are prepared to put in the additional time they will need to monitor her every move.

Posted by: Brooklynite | May 27, 2006 10:51 PM

Count me as one of Ms. Cooper's detractors. Having worked in her administration since she began in 2003, like countless others, I have witnessed morale (particularly among librarians)at its nadir; understaffing at all levels, the likes of which I've never seen anywhere else; and generally loud and dirty library branches.

Had Ms. Cooper put a higher premium on security, the library worker at the Brownsville branch would not have lost part of her finger. To the best of my knowledge, Ms. Cooper showed no public sympathy to this person, only cared that Brooklyn Public Library suffered in the aftermath of the unfortunate incident.

I'm frankly baffled that so many librarians have rallied to Ms. Cooper's defense. Has the bar plummeted so low? Or are many librarians as ethically challenged as Ms. Cooper seems to be? Along the latter lines, let it me known that Ms. Cooper ordered all Brooklyn Public Library employees attend a mandatory ethics program two months before her own vacation scandal broke.

She may be passionate and creative, but my message to DC is keep your new, overpriced director on a very tight leash and don't let out of the doghouse.

Posted by: Brooklynlibrarian | May 30, 2006 3:16 PM

I worked for many years in BPL including about two years under Ginny. Many of the projects she has been given credit for are doubtful in terms of their efficiency and all of them started before she became Director. BPL only started reserving bestsellers and videos after they began the Millennium online cataloging system which was initiated and funded when Martin Gomez was Director. She changed policies and allowed patrons to reserve almost all materials however there wasn't an infrastructure set up to handle the increased demand (trucks, depots, etc.) There were so many holds that BPL had to use UPS to deliver reserves to the respective branches. Poor planning without the staff and resources to carry out this ambitious initiative. As for staff she demoted all Branch Librarians (there is now no one officially in charge of a branch library) and transferred all Senior Clerks to other locations. This was all arbitrary and the end result was confusion and disorganization in the branch library system. The new fine arts library proposed in downtown Brooklyn was not her idea and it is debatable in the first place as to whether Brooklyn with all of its needs should place this as a priority. After all there is a great research library for the fine arts in Manhattan at Lincoln Center just a short train ride away. When I look at Ginny's tenure I can find no positives improvements or original ideas. With Martin, there was great improvement in buildings. As soon as Ginny came on board she fired the Architect who was responsible for the planning and marked improvements we saw in BPL libraries. Even though she is making the $200,000 per it is still a reduction in pay for her. She was making probably over $220,000 a year plus perks like a free apartment, etc.
other tangi

Posted by: former BPL employee | May 31, 2006 2:43 PM

I just read the comment by another BPL employee about the ridiculous policy of giving a library card to a 2 month old. In another attempt to artificially boost statistics any new patron could borrow materials without any ID. They were allowed to take out books or videos, etc. with something called a Temporary Library Card. Also the increased circulation statistics were questionable. The numbers continued to increase but the business in the branch libraries was the same.

Posted by: former BPL employee | May 31, 2006 4:21 PM

I worked at Brooklyn Public Library for a number of years before Ginnie Cooper's arrival there and for about a year after she took control.

The library was in pretty good shape when Ms. Cooper came. There were programs in place and there was a good feel among staff. Ms. Cooper systemmatically dismantled existing programs without putting others into place. For months, half a year, longer, nothing much occurred. When programs were constructed, they were big, block-like behemoths that produced very little real benefit for Brooklyn's readers. Take a look at the First Five Years program, which is supposed to promote reading to babies. Sure, something happened--but did $1.1 million worth of something happen? No. First Five Years was a concept that never translated into concrete services for a large number of Brooklynites, even though significant resources were made available.

One of Ms. Cooper's strategies was to take books off the shelves and replace them with a heavier reliance on sharing of books within the system. This means that Brooklynites--who are predominantly low income, who often can not afford to buy books, many of whom are working and raising kids or working two jobs, or raising kids as single parents--come to the library after work, look for a book, leave without it and have to return to pick it up. This is actually quite onerous and doesn't get books into people's homes. Again and again, staff members said to me--and I shared their feelings--that they felt shocked to see the large number of books tossed out in the garbage behind the library, to see the empty shelves... These are but two examples of programs and policies gone wrong. If you take a look at the system, you will find more.

I don't believe Ms. Cooper understands the special problems of an intensely urban environment like Brooklyn--or Washington DC, for that matter. Ms. Cooper related everything back to the Multnomah system in Oregon, which she had previously led. Nothing the Brooklyn Public Library System had achieved had anything to offer in her mind, it seemed. We were to recreate our system in the image of a much smaller, urban/public system with far less of a cultural and racial mix.

On her first day, Ms. Cooper backed a high level administrator with decades of time in the institution to the wall, forcing her to quit so that there would be an open position for Ms. Cooper's friend, Janet Kinney. I am not wondering too hard if Ms. Kinney will have a position in the Washington system when Ms. Cooper takes over. Ms. Cooper alienated and fired administrators with, collectively, hundreds of years of experience at Brooklyn Public Library. In their place, she put cronies, weaklings, yes men and women, and despots. Personalities aside, these people often did not have the professional experience one would expect to take on their positions.

As a person, Ms. Cooper is rather unpleasant to her employees, to put it mildly. She does not respect staff. She throws fits. Board members don't see this, but everybody else knows. it is felt by everyone, including employees who never meet Ms. Cooper. For instance, a librarians in one of the branches told me (this is not my personal experience) that librarians were told to remove all personal effects from their desks. The message was that others could and would be working at their stations... and that they were quite replaceable. Instead of a system where staff is loyal to the institution and invested in their great mission of serving the public with knowledge, books and enjoyment, there is an iron hand mentality. What is the purpose of this? Does it have one?

I strongly urge Washington DC to think and think again about bringing Ginnie Cooper to run the library system of your beautiful city. She will not help you. Please, study the Brooklyn system. Ask those of us who work or have worked under Ginnie Cooper how we see it before you let yourselves in for this kind of treatment.

Posted by: MBR | June 2, 2006 10:55 AM

While Biggest fan talks about the second in charge person of BPL being a lady of color, there was only one person in charge and that was Ginnie. The only person given any other real responsiblity was Janet Kinney. Anyone who worked there knows that was the case. I'd just like to bring up one other point. Shortly after Ginnie arrived, within the first year BPL centralized all book ordering. Branch staff are not allowed any say in the building of collections. All books are ordered by one Dept. and only a few people. If you talk to them they will tell you how inefficient this is. I guess it's her way of having complete control. No supervisors in branches and librarians without professional duties. The main problem with this is that Collection Development has no idea what is needed at each agency. They are not present like the branch staff and have no access to the shelves. So they overorder books on a subject branch A doesn't need, and underorder books Branch B doesn't have. Basically Ginnie has deprofessinalized librarianship. She's a librarian's worst enemy.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 2, 2006 4:34 PM

BPL employees, nothing changed when she came to you. At Multnomah County, long-time employees were demoted, transferred, or driven out. She threw fits. Collection development was mostly centralized. And she sent out teams of "weeding locusts" who went from branch to branch, removing books - her standard was that shelves should only be half full. The patrons and staff saw them as half empty, though most employees were afraid to say so; dissent was dangerous, if you valued your pension. Washington, watch your dumpsters.

Posted by: Multnomah Employee | June 3, 2006 12:45 AM

Although Ginnie is politically ultraliberal she is an enemy of the people. She is not a friend of the working man or woman. When she arrived in Brooklyn she and Janet came in with chips on their shoulders. While there were some staff problems and people that should have been dealt with for unsatisfactory performance they assumed the worst of everyone. What Brooklyn needs is a Director who will roll up his or her sleeves and get down to the basics and work. She is more at ease talking with other professionals (Library Directors) and dealing with planning and theory than actually getting and doing the work. After clustering was initiated (check King County and other systems that have attempted clustering) there was permissiveness and often little branch discipline. I was even told I couldn't tell a subordinate staff member not to use a cell phone at a public service desk. Now I hear from old colleagues that with no supervision at the branch level it is not unusual for staff to leave make their own hours and not always report their actual worked schedule on their timesheets. Before we had rules (although not rigid) for staff and the public. I'd just also like mention that a few years ago, not long after Sept. 11 there was an incident at a branch library when a customer asked reference staff probing questions about Pres. Bush's parade route (he was visiting New York). The staff were concerned and called Security who then called the police. The individual was arrested and taken in for questioning and later released. Ginnie was upset about this and later developed Intellectual Freedom Training for the entire staff. Among the items covered was public computers and accessing pornography. Many of us were disturbed by the outcome: BPL instructed us to allow patrons to access pornography; according to them it was their intellectual right. When we asked about children accessing pornography we were told to discourage it but that we shouldn't actually tell them they couldn't access it via the internet. That was also (to their way of thinking) their right, even though they were underage. Since then library computers have been filtered but it is still not impossible to do pornography. People even send it to themselves via email. If Ginnie feels that pornography is o.k. in a library setting, then why not just order XXX DVDs. By not ordering them you are censoring according to their philosophy. I know that most patrons, esp. parents do not think like this.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 3, 2006 9:55 AM

I wasn't around for the Brownsville incident but I do know one thing. Under Ginnie there was strong apprehension on her part and dislike for the presence of security in branch libraries. Of course we're talking about Brooklyn, New York here not some small town. She changed security policies not allowing BPL security to wear badges and uniforms. They were instructed to wear blazers. She also made it increasingly difficult for security officers to do their job. They were instructed to allow most infractions by the public to go and to almost never ask a problem patron to leave the library. This created an atmosphere in many branches of permissiveness and in some locations wild behavior. Dozens of kids around computers, using profane language, and even getting away with insulting and cursing at library staff. Again she was allowing her personal radical political view to affect her judment in enacting library policy.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 3, 2006 1:18 PM

The blame for allowing Ginnie's excesses falls on the libraries Board of Trustees who rubber stamped most of her activites only acknowledging her questionable statistics on circulation, holds, programs, etc. These are not always the determinants in evaluating success in a public library. We all saw poor security, no rules or regulations for staff or public, mediocre collection development, poor treatment of staff. There have been surveys done of staff in different businesses and situations that point to involvement in the organization, respect, working conditions are even more valued by employees than higher salary. It was only after she personally crossed the Board of Trustees that led to Ginnie's departure. But I place most of the blame on the staff. BPL staff are lambs. They never challenged anything. Our union which reflected the membership was ineffective. They have allowed jobs to be lost and work to be outsourced. They allowed BPL to transfer and demote all Branch Librarians and change locations of every senior clerk without putting up any kind of fight.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 3, 2006 2:38 PM

Good Riddance! Library users used to enjoy browsing the collections at the branches.be Now they know better. The collections are all homogenious. They place a hold from home and stop by the library for a Snapple when they're thirsty, or if they need a fix of some pornography from our intellectually free computers!

Posted by: Deprofessionalized Librarian | June 6, 2006 4:29 PM

In terms of productivity I didn't see any in BPL under Ginnie. All I saw was mismanagement. For example, BPL went with a automated public computer system with Xerox a few years ago and decided to hire full time staff to supervise computer sign ups and do some minor troubleshooting at the branch level. There were no policies set for this new position or job descriptions. A good deal of the time these people were doing almost nothing. So while we were downsizing our regular public service staff which was making desk coverage, etc. more difficult and diminishing service they went with a new unproductive position which most library systems were able to fill with part time, non benefit employees.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 7, 2006 3:29 PM

Ginnie Cooper came to New York with no understanding of Brooklyn and tried to force us to become something we were not. She did it without delicacy and with no desire to get to know us as a community or as a staff. She made big statements about being so proud of being "one of us." Then, after taking credit for projects begun by people who pre-dated her by far, she broke her contract and left.

A "fan" mentioned the #2 person being a young woman of color. Janet Kinney was always Ginnie's #2 person, no matter who else worked with her. This newly created position had nothing to do with racial equality or leadership. It was about making Ginnie's work load lighter. Chief of Staff? Come on now! What was so difficult about Ginnie's job that she needed someone between her and the staff (Janet) as well as between her, elected officials and the public?(her "Chief of Staff") Without the yoke of Ginnie Cooper around their necks, I hope that this woman and Janet can step up to be part of a new team, supporters of the Brooklyn Public Library and kind of leaders the Brooklyn needs to lead us through transition.

Lastly, after coming in, disrupting Brooklyn, laying waste to so much and claiming credit for anything good, she ran for the hills and abandoned her very close friend and deputy, leaving Janet to face the backlash of her actions. She showed poor work ethics and even worse personal ethics. I wish Janet Kinney well in the future but would advise her to think long and hard before ever accepting another position with her "friend" Ginnie again. With friends and bosses like Ginnie Cooper, who needs enemies?

DC Library Employees, take heed of the warning by the Multnomah County staffer who described what she did there and all of the people who have seconded her slash and burn attitude in New York. If you're in a position of authority, be glad that the Washington Post has the Classifieds. You may need them.

Maybe every churchgoer who reads this should light a candle and pray for the health and future of DC Libraries. They'll need all the help they can get.

Posted by: Happy not to be in DC | June 7, 2006 7:51 PM

I can't see Janet lasting long in BPL. She was just a facilitator for Ginny and her insincerity and disingenousness made her unpopular with BPL staff. He is not an impressive individual. I wouldn't be surprised if she follows Ginnie to DC. As for Ms. Cooper, she's a legend in her own mind.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 8, 2006 9:55 AM

Don't be fooled when you read last year's Summer Reading Program at BPL increased 200%; while many more kids signed up for the program because we used snacks as an incentive, very few of them (I would hazard a guess of less than 10%) read books that summer. At one time, kids needed a library card to sign up for the program; now they no longer do.

Posted by: brooklyn librarian | June 8, 2006 7:38 PM

As we all know, women are an oppressed "minority" in this country. But in the BPL it was men who were discriminated against. There were almost no internal promotions of men during Ginnie's tenure. Very few hires of men into executive positions. It was a strictly female society on the third floor. Just one more point. Many librarians working in the three systems were required to attend a Bridges Under Poverty workshop in Dec. sponsored by a library consortium (think tank) now run by Martin Gomez. I think the basic premise was to educate public library staff in understanding the "culture" of underprivileged people in our country. But it was more than that. It was strongly political and had an economic point of view against the accumulation of wealth in society. Of course this entire program was sponsored by foundations supported by large corporations. I thought public libraries were not supposed to have a bias or point of view. And this is the thing that's scary about some of the leadership in our field. People like Martin and Ginnie are not happy or interested in just building good libraries. They have a political agenda and they use the library as their forum. They want to change society which is not what a library is supposed to do. Public libraries have flourished because it is the only place where everyone get information and anyone can get an education. There is no room for individuals who want to interfere with this. If these people are interested in politics let them run for office.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 8, 2006 11:19 PM

Just one word about Martin. If he's so committed to urban librarianship as he claims then why did he jump ship on BPL only a few months after Sept. 11. This was the most critical time in the history of the city of New York. The lowest point. You would think as Captain of the ship he would stick around. But these people do not think like that. They're mercenaries. Hopefully the misguided BPL Bd. of Trustees will think about this and appoint someone who actually cares about Brooklyn, New York and wants to be there. Better yet, maybe they should reevaluate the position. Maybe we don't need a full time Director. Just get a retired businessman who would function as an advisor. Martin espoused the idea of volunteers in libraries and wanted to replace regular staff with them. Then why not a volunteer Director. We could save a million bucks and operate more efficiently.

Posted by: former BPL staff member | June 10, 2006 2:58 PM

The idea of going to Singapore to learn about how to operate libraries in the U.S. is horsesh*t. All it is is a junket. The kind that I'm sure Ginnie and Martin would protest against if an elected official would try to attempt something similar. Whether it be a company looking for favors paying for the trip or worse yet the public, it's a travesty. They went on a luxury trip around the world at our expense. Stay in Brooklyn, visit your libraries and talk to the people. It's very simple and not as glamorous but that's how you run the Brooklyn Public Library. Besides, who wants to emulate a place like that. If you're late one day with a book in Singapore they'd probably tar and feather you.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 11, 2006 9:21 PM

Dear Brooklyn,
Cut us some slack on your tales of woe, please. We hear your pain and truly understand that the esteemed trustees of the DC Public Library have made a monumental mistake. We're suffering already and she hasn't even arrived. Be kind to your neighbors down south and don't tell us any more. Ignorance is bliss, right? At least that was the board's belief when they made the hire.

Posted by: Discouraged in DC | June 12, 2006 12:22 AM

I would like to thank Mark Fisher and the Washington Post for giving us a place to
voice our concerns and vent our frustrations. It was more than Ginnie Cooper or Janet Kinney allowed us to do. I
hope if Ginnie learned one lesson on her Brooklyn tenure, it was how to listen and respect the opinions of others.

Posted by: Current BPL Employee | June 12, 2006 9:26 AM

Let's talk facts

Before Ginnie Cooper

1 We had branch librarians sleeping in their offices, waiting for retirement. It was a regular practice for some of them after meetings (which usually finished around 12:30 pm) not to return to their branches, but go home instead and cheat on their timesheets.

2 All the branches looked differently, books were processed differently and many sections were unique for a particular branch. Walking from branch to branch was walking in two completely different worlds.

3 Some branch librarians were unable to send their paperwork on time, some don't even bother to send any paper work at all.

4 Little if no outreach programs were done at community organizations and many
library shelves were packed with books, because nobody wanted to weed them.

5 Many branch librarians, were also unaware of what e-mail was, how to send an attachment, or what Google is- is it an exotic animal or children's book? Very few of them were able to search the Internet effectively.

6 BPL had heavy administration with departments even working only 4 days of the week and telecommuting on Friday...?

7 The library catalog was a mess: very few books, marked "on shelf " in the computer catalog were actually physically present at the branch.

8 Putting a book "on hold" from another branch was a wild guess at best. You could wait for your book hold forever and sometimes ever.

9 Getting a library card was a headache, tons and tons of documents, ID's and what not.

After Ginnie Cooper:

1 She made it easier to get a library , easier to renew a book, she made check out policies uniform. You can now check out 100 books and get a library card with one ID of your choice.

2 She put in a more efficient, faster, holds system and thousand of books circulate between branches to go to their customers.

3 She put wireless capabilities in all of our branches. During the day many students from the nearby colleges do their homework in the branches.

4 She commenced a systemwide inventory project on a scale that no other public library has ever attempted. BPL is now working now on Catalog we Trust Project. By the end of this year or early next year every book in the library will be checked against the computer catalog and all the book "ghosts" will be deleted. A project that was long overdue by previous administrations, but nobody had the courage to do it.

5 She increased the book and media budgets. Ask yourself what is better?- library with packed shelves of books that nobody wants to check out or library with nicely presented well weeded shelves that attracts more customers.

6 While at Brooklyn, she has made the causes of intellectual freedom vital and she has made sure every staff member, from custodian to clerk to librarian understands this.

7 Circulation rates, and the circulation went up every year Ginnie Cooper was at the Brooklyn Public Library. The library has more users than ever before. We have never had higher circulation, more money donated, more attendance at our programs, and more national recognition from library leaders across the country.

8 Our summer reading attendance went up 200% last summer, which was much higher than our colleagues at Queens or New York Public Libraries. We now have people calling us to ask what we are doing--a new phenomenon for Brooklyn.

9 Additionally, when Ginnie Cooper came to Brooklyn, she immediately cut many useless executive positions that former directors had created. We once an assistant director and three deputy directors, and Ginnie Cooper cut it down to a chief of staff and two deputy directors. This occurred across the board in many of our departments. The organization is no longer as top heavy as it was when Ms. Cooper started here.

10 She has diversified our top management, so now we have women and people of color in top positions in Human Resources, Neighborhood Services, Collection Development, Development, Marketing, and, the second in charge of the Brooklyn Public Library is an African American women who is under forty years of age.

11 For the first time in many years the library has a uniformed policy on where to shelf and how to process the books. Something that was never a priority for other library administrators.

After all BPL is a library and taking care of the books must be a priority?

Posted by: notafanofanyone | June 15, 2006 12:05 AM

In conclusion I want to say that Ginnie Cooper is not an angel. Some of her previous employees are not at ease with her and others are big fans of her energy, courage and competence.

To all of you in DC who are discouraged by the posts above I will say this: Don't be discouraged. If you are a professional you will be more than ok with Ginnie Cooper.

There is one thing that she knows better than many library directors: renovation of library branches. In Multnomah County library she revamped most of the branches and they look like modern, well equipped libraries of the 21 century. Just take a look at the branches online and keep in mind that they look much better inside, than outside.

Give Ginnie a green light and I am sure that with 170 million dollars on hand in 5-10 years everybody will be proud of their library system, librarians, politicians and patrons.

Good luck!

Posted by: notafanofanyone | June 15, 2006 12:53 AM

Give me the names of the BLs who were sleeping in their offices. I dispute that, the circulation statistics, Summer Reading stats, etc. The renovations started under Martin Gomez and were planned by Elizabeth Martin. Ginnie had nothing to do with it. Intellectual freedom to her is allowing customers incl. kids to access pornography. The holds system started before she came with the advent of Milennium. All she did was to break apart the infrastructure (even using UPS to deliver holds) which couldn't handle the no. of holds after she changed policy (allowing bestsellers and videos to be reserved). Also, materials that would normally circulate immediately at a branch location were spending more time in transit than on the shelf or in circulation. All she was about was numbers. I was there and I question them. I saw great increases in circ. at branches that were tradionally low circ. branches. I rememer going to Ginnie's All Staff Day a few years ago and standing next to someone fairly high up in management. I mentioned the circ. increases. This indiv. just said to me, "Do you really believe those figures?" I even asked staff at some of these locations if they were doing more business and they told me "no." As for DC your Board obviously wanted a brand name. They seem to have an inferiority complex and didn't feel they could attract a capable Director. Again I question the need to even hire a full time person in that position. But if they felt it necessarly why greatly overpay to bring in Ms. Cooper. Why would she all of a sudden leave an even higher paying job in the middle of a contract to relocate. Its because she was pushed out at BPL.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 15, 2006 9:58 AM

Look out for her high price husband and wife consulting team. Talks of vision and understanding libraries with dated solutions and recommendations written as if by a third grader. They usually run in packs with all her high priced cronies soon following. If DC believes that her high priced salary is the only costs to be paid, they should be aware of the consultants factor... The Information Partners, etc....

Posted by: Brooklyn Public Library Employee | June 15, 2006 4:05 PM

It's apparent that praises for Cooper are coming from the same person (please read post dated May 22 by unnamed supporter, next was posted with the same contents and signed Ginnie Cooper Supporter.) June 15, the very same post appeares again, signed by "notafanofanyone."
Cooper and her former lapdog Kenny did not do anything good for BPL. Security is next to non-existent, staff is forced to tolerate abuse and foul language. Branches and Central building look unclean. Rats and insects population in Cenral grew more than any other infalted numbers mentioned in praises. Can only repeat -- GOOD RIDDANCE!

Posted by: insider | June 16, 2006 9:16 AM

Hey Not a fan...What library did you work for? Not Brooklyn Public Library, that's for sure. I have been with the BPL for 20+ years and NEVER heard of a Branch Librarian sleeping in his or her office waiting to retire.

As for salaries, lets look at how much is being paid to the top 10% of the system. I can all but guarantee that the number of positions may have gone down but the salaries paid out did not.

The positives you're crediting her with are not her achievements, but those of the staff as a whole, of the people in the Children's Services department and of the Neighborhood Servces department as a whole, of the IT department or the Collection Development department. These changes were in motion long before she got here. I'm notafan of spin doctoring! I second the person above who said, "Good Riddance."

Posted by: notafantasyreader | June 16, 2006 8:34 PM

While BPL is a big library system it is a relatively small organization. There are about 1000 employees or the staff of a small to medium sized company. Yet as mentioned above when Ginnie came to BPL she commissioned studies of almost every department and activity in the library. If there were two guys in a cubicle in charge of paper towels she hired a consultant to study it. At great expense, with no common sense and zero results. And just a reminder. After decades of tradition, it was Ginnie that, in the spirit of Scrouge eliminated our Staff Christmas Party.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 16, 2006 10:54 PM

If Osama Bin Laden walked into the library I'm convinced that Ginnie and friends would not call the police. They would be more concerned about his intellectual freedom. The best one word description I heard describing her: COMPULSIVE.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 17, 2006 9:36 AM

I'm sure there aren't too many people posting here out of the thousands of customers and staff members, etc. in Brooklyn, Multnomah Co., etc. I'm certain Ginnie's response to negative comments about her would be that we couldn't handle the great change, advances and insight she brought to the library. She considers herself a "Mover and Shaker." And that we're just malcontents and inferior employees anyways. Most of us librarians are not revolutionaries or looking for a fight. The people I've worked with over the years incl. at BPL are modest, not overly ambitious and generally hard working. And polite. What I and others have tried to give you is inside information based on our day to day experiences at the library. Something the Bd. of Trustees and the public do not always see. I and others have never posted on the internet or gone out of our way to criticize any management until now. According to John W. Hill, "As a result of the actions of the Mayor and the DC Council to make the reform of the DC Public Library an important priority and the hard work of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Panel and the Library Board of Trustees we were able to attract the best librarians in the country as candidates for this position." You've just recruited and paid an exhorbitant salary to the worst librarian in the country.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 17, 2006 1:19 PM

What BPL really needs is a union like the Teamsters. Our staff are mild mannered and non-confrontational. They need proper representation and are not capable of doing it themselves. While both Martin and Ginny were able to clobber weaklings like Marlene and Eileen, they couldn't compete with those guys. None of the anti-staff and union busting tactics of the past two managements would be tolerated. There would be a battle over initiatives like outsourcing, self check out, arbitrary transfers of vested staff and unmerited demotions (not of problem staff, but of everyone). No harrassment of long time employees, either. Making their lives miserable so they will eventually leave (for example forcing them to work at a different library every month and have no stability in their job). DC Staff beware. You'd better lawyer up. You're being warned. Of course, if you're a slacker you might like it since productivity is way down. People who used to have responsible jobs now have little to do. There are now many more timesheet abuses since there is no professional staff member assigned to supervise a branch library. Anarchy does not work.

Posted by: for BPL employee | June 17, 2006 3:29 PM

Whether you're in DC or Brooklyn on Anytown, USA the question is, what kind of libraries do you want? Library managements around the country seem to feel you want Amazon.com. Best sellers and DVDs on request with little waiting time. And internet access computers. This is expensive and to get the level of service the public desires costs money. Or do you want a more traditional library? Books of all types, in quantity, a place where you can read and study independently. Personal service and help from professional librarians. Do you want 150 copies of Danielle Steel and no books on physics and algebra. 10 copies of Ace Ventura and 0 copies of Kurasawa movies. When I talk to library customers,they of course want it all. But the angriest they get is when we don't deliver basic service. They want algebra books and the American Revolution. And still think of the library as an educational institution. This is not what Ginnie is all about. She is against anything that will not deliver high statistics. Esp. reference books. That's why I say we don't need library Directors. They're just standing in the way of once again having good libraries.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 17, 2006 7:25 PM

Let's be more positive about Ginnie and Janet- Let's give them a fair try at Washington DC Public Library. After all, if it doesn't work out there, I'm sure there's a job for them at SNAPPLE!

Posted by: Notafanofsnapple | June 19, 2006 6:52 AM

Ginnie Cooper ... good riddens. I worked at the Brooklyn Public Library for five years and I must say that BPL deteriorated under Ginnie Cooper. Basically, Ginnie Cooper showed disdain toward staff, had fits and tantrums, didn't interact with staff at all and tried to turn Brooklyn Public Library into Multnomah Public Library East.

Honestly, I must say that after her tenure, I'm not really sure how BPL has improved. On the leadership front, Cooper's performance leaves a lot to be desired.

Watch out DC ...

Posted by: Brooklyn | June 19, 2006 12:13 PM

It was entertaing to read these posts. It is pretty easy to read between the lines.

Love or hater her, Ginny has proven herself as a change agent for the better at Multnomah Public Library. She took a number of bold steps, many of which did not endear her to her staff. But Ginny is well aware that her primary goal is to the end user.

Truth be told, Ginny is a driver who places a higher priority upon results than establishing a positive organizational culture. She is the perfect candidate for an organization that needs change.

D.C. - I think your lucky, even if Ginny breaks a few eggs to make an omelet.

Posted by: From Oregon | June 19, 2006 2:24 PM

You have a right to your opinion, Multnomah, even though others from your library have given opposite views. Please list her accomplishments and all of the great change she has made for library customers. I can't think of any in Brooklyn. Nice of you to be so cavalier about all of this. I guess you think it's a joke.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 19, 2006 4:26 PM

Someone above wrote: "Until the DC libraries allow me to browse, choose and reserve books entirely online and either call me, text me, or email me when the books arrive, they suck."

Actually the DC Public Libraries have been doing that for YEARS. Why did you not know that?

Does this mean they no longer suck?

Posted by: Pablo | June 19, 2006 5:01 PM

When I learned of Ginnie Cooper's appointment as Director of the D.C. Library System, I sent the following letter to the city's Mayor as well as some members of the library's Board of Trustees. I would like to share my experience with your readers.

May 16, 2006

I am writing in regard to the forthcoming appointment of Ms. Ginnie Cooper as Director of the Washington, D.C. Public Library system. I wish to inform you of some important facts about Ms. Cooper, who I feel is not deserving of such an appointment, and hope that after investigating this information, you will reconsider the suitability of her candidacy for your district's public library system.

I am a former librarian, who recently retired from the Brooklyn Public Library where Ms. Cooper was the Executive Director, because my professional career was ruined by Ms. Cooper's dishonorable actions. Ms. Cooper's administration of the library resulted in the dismantling and destruction of one of the finest literary collections housed in any public library in New York City. At that time, I was a librarian working in the Division of Language and Literature at the Central Library, and because I voiced my disagreement with this wholesale demolition of the collections, I was harassed and suspended for eight days without pay on trumped up charges of insubordination ( I am enclosing copies of my letter of appeal to the Library's Board of Trustees which documents all these events).

Though I sought legal assistance and brought my case before the American Arbitration Association, I did not achieve any vindication. The outcome of all my appeals was my involuntary transfer to a miserably understaffed and under-resourced small backwater branch, where no one wanted to work. I was humiliated and unable to practice my profession, my duties having been more or less reduced to those of a clerk. A few months later, when I reached retirement age, I decided to leave a profession I formerly loved and was devoted to.

Subsequently, there have been a number of scandals involving Ms. Cooper's unethical and corrupt actions, involving the abuse of her privileges as Executive Director of the Library. These actions were written up in New York City newspapers and I am enclosing clippings describing the charges against Ms. Cooper.

I think you should know the character and background of the person you are considering appointing as head of your library system and as a community leader.

Posted by: Lucy Gertner | June 19, 2006 9:07 PM

This fiasco must be a tremendous embarrassment for Ginnie. She used 6 or 7 weeks of unauthorized annual leave and was not only forced to pay back the money but was also made to submit a regular time sheet to the Board of Trustees. As far as I know Library Directors don't do time sheets. Then when she broke her contract the BPL Board of Trustees let her walk. If she's such a great agent of change and catalyst for state of the art librarianship then I would think they'd force her to stay. They wanted her out, period. Because she couldn't work with them, either. BPL needed change but was smart enough to know when it was change for the worse.

Posted by: former BPL staff member | June 19, 2006 10:54 PM

For many of you BPL staff that find this a means to vent about the situation, I think the people of DC have gotten the idea what type of person Ginnie Cooper is. Now it is up to you, the staff of BPl to find another place to "air our dirty laundry" start your own blog. After all no one else in DC is reading this just majority of Brooklynites--who are connected to the library. Be creative, move on, start a "I hate Ginnie" blog (or whatever you want to call it elsewhwere. You are embarrasssing the institution more than harming the person in subject to all these blogs. MOVE ON!!!!!

Posted by: disgruntled BPL Staff | June 20, 2006 1:15 PM

I agree with "disgruntled BPL staff." It is time to move on. Thankfully, Ginnie, along with her entourage, is leaving Brooklyn. Perhaps our Board of Trustees is reading this blog and will gain a little insight into what problems exist as a result of her policies. Hopefully they will be more savvy and careful in the hiring of our next director. Perhaps they will consider the opinion of staffers who worked with her and knew the effect of her policies on our working lives and the state of our library. The many responses in this blog indicates the need for a forum for BPL employees to speak their mind without fear -- the lack of signtures reflects our ongoing fear of reprisal. Ginnie will soon be gone and DC will have to deal with her one way or another -- I fear they will be disappointed which will, in the end, hurt library staff and patrons -- again.

Posted by: haestillscaredtosign | June 20, 2006 7:08 PM

What we're doing here is a form of whistle blowing. I don't think there's anything wrong with it or that we're bringing any kind of embarrassment to the organization. There has been no slander which would be an embarrassment. The people in DC understand. Many of them work for the government and have been in these type of situations. We should have been doing this a long time ago. The best forum would have been through the union. It's also smart and not too cowardly to be anonymous because people have been fired for this type of activity (blogging about their place of work). There's no reason why people can't work in peace and harmony. And still provide great service to the public. BPL has constantly gone thru change over the years. We didn't have computers until the early '90's. The entire job is now completely different. Even Ginnie's biggest fans have admitted she has no people skills. That obviously did her in with the Board of Trustees. She has a COMPULSIVE personality. But the bottom line is service to the public. We've tried to give you all insider information and address specific areas such as circulation, customer service, security, programs etc. The organization is in much poorer condition than it was 3 years ago.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 21, 2006 8:32 AM

Ginnie Cooper may be a good librarian, but she was a poor leader of the nation's fifth largest public library system. I never worked with someone who has so much obvious disdain for the community and her staff. And then there's her phony alter ego, Janet Kinney with her fake smile and thumbs up gestures. We use to always joke that Janet had an uzi under her skirt.

Posted by: Brooklyn | June 21, 2006 11:50 AM

ENOUGH! BPler's move on--Good luck DC

Posted by: Anonymous | June 21, 2006 2:18 PM

Oh my. It would appear that Ms Cooper did the same horrible things in Brooklyn that she did in Portland: *Demoralized library staff by ignoring and disrespecting them - "achieving" this, that, and the other thing on the backs of the workers, the very people who make libraries great places to visit. *Gave lip-service to diversity - both in staffing and in embracing the communities we serve - while actually either ignoring or undermining genuine efforts at service and inclusion. *Did her little dictator routine of insistence on "her way," allowing no alternative voices to be heard in the bastion of "intellectual freedom" that she ceaselessly touts (oh, the irony). *Creating highly-paid management and coordinator positions, filling them with "yes" women/men (ever heard of Mini Me?), while simultaneously cutting the budget for front-line staff (I mentioned demoralization earlier, didn't I?). *Hers was the only Multnomah County department that didn't have an active management-worker (labor relations) committee, as required; she somehow managed to pull one over on her County superiors in this regard. *The "impressive" statistics "she" tallies are rarely because she has genuinely improved services; rather they are from adjusting policies and procedures so that statistics appear to be showing improvements, when in fact things like handing out library cards and materials like candy to I.D.-less individuals has the effect of attracting thieves. This list could go on and on. One more thing I must add to the list as a word of caution to library employees in DC: you won't matter to her unless you help to advance her boundless self-promotion efforts. So, virtually all front-line staff are at best useless to her, and she will literally look through you as if you don't exist. She will, indeed, likely treat you and your front-line colleagues as the enemy from the moment she arrives. And if she really doesn't like you, she may very well go after you (through her minions, she will never sully her own hands) with a vengeance. Many of us at Multnomah County Library were thrilled when she left, singing "Ding-Dong the Wicked Witch" in jubilation. And when we heard she was taking Janet K. with her, well the joy was nearly indescribable! We also shook our heads and sighed for the pain BPL workers were in for. Now we can feel for DC Public as well.

Posted by: Former Multonmah County Library (Portland) employee | June 21, 2006 8:03 PM

As for Janet, her resignation just confirmed what everyone here thought about her. She's nothing without Ginnie.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 21, 2006 8:35 PM

Usually, terrible things done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things."

-Russell Baker

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 21, 2006 9:29 PM

Fair is fair. Janet is a victim of Ginnie's obsessive compulsive behavior. Someone pointed out that with friends like Ginnie, Janet Kinny does not need enemies. She, unlike Ginnie worked, crazy long hours and worked hard. I, for one, hope she lands squarely on her feet - far away from Ginnie.

Haivng said that, I agree with everyone else who said it, enough is enough. What else can be said, good or bad? Nothing. Let's call it a day people and move on!

Posted by: Fair play | June 22, 2006 12:24 AM

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Posted by: insurance auto | June 22, 2006 5:15 AM

Harry Lime looking down from above at the streets of Vienna and comparing his victims to ants:

Martins: Have you ever seen any of your victims?

Harry Lime: You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax - the only way you can save money nowadays.

from THE THIRD MAN

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 22, 2006 9:35 AM

It's time for BPL employees to ask their union to start an anonymous blog -- and to demand an explanation for why the union did not provide a safe forum long before this latest scandal.

Posted by: needourownblog | June 22, 2006 3:28 PM

If the unions sponsored a blog, then maybe they could also inform the Board of Trustees of its existence. These comments are valid, and the need to express ourselves is evident. But if the Board doesn't hear, or more importantly, doesn't act, or take this into consideration when hiring a new Executive Director, then these dreadful three years will have been in vain.

Posted by: needourownblog2 | June 22, 2006 6:24 PM

The Board of Trustees knew about all of this and didn't care. Esp. about us. It wasn't until Ginnie crossed and disrespected them that they took action. This fire is still burning in some of us so let everyone have their say. This isn't just restricted to Brooklyn, but DC, Portland, etc. I'm sure Ginnie's contract with DC is signed and sealed and if they tried to break it she'd sure their a**. Ginnie's favorite statistics are the figures in her salary. She's taking a cut in DC. Her base salary is $179,000 per but the moving bonus she will get of $25,000 has to be approved annually. I'm sure she'll kick and scream if she doesn't get it. I'd heard rumors for years that she wasn't around a good deal of the time. When she came to Brooklyn her husband decided to remain in Oregon. What I heard was that she was bi-coastal and was spending a good deal of time there. Taking 3 and 4 day weekends on a regular basis.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 22, 2006 8:16 PM

What Lucy Gertner had to say is real cause for alarm. When I was there, there was a particular librarian with multiple offenses. At the Clinton Hill branch, he had a fight with a supervisor using expletives and was transferred to the Flatlands branch. There he had another fight with his supervisor and also maliciously ran up a co-workers credit card when she left her computer for a moment. He also praised the 9/11 attacks. He was then transferred to another branch where, after about a year, he harassed a Kingsborough Community College employee using the library's phone. As a constant repeat offender, he only received a 5 day suspension and transfer to the Highlawn branch for this. It's a real outrage that Lucy was given an 8 day suspension for simply trying to protect a collection. This shows what abominants that Cooper, Kinney, Jennings, and the rest of the Grand Army Plaza 3rd floor vermin are. Also, there was a popular, well-liked Training Manager who was called up to serve in Iraq. Cooper knifed him in the back while he was serving and eliminated his position.

Posted by: Concerned | June 23, 2006 10:06 AM

When I first came to BPL I heard all kinds of wild stories about librarians being murdered and some of the branches being haunted. I think we should hire an exorcist to get rid of all demons esp. those left over from these two ladies. THE DEVIL MADE THEM DO IT.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 23, 2006 10:50 AM

Ginnie's goals when she came to BPL: to make $1 million and tear down the entire organization. She'll have to go somewhere else to finish off that one million but she did bring BPL down to its present state of chaos and anarchy.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 23, 2006 10:50 PM

Ginnie's legacy: It will take BPL years to rebuild. There is a crack in the organizational infrastructure. If the new Director has any sense (questionable) he will discover a culture of indifference among the staff that wasn't there three years ago. When your professional duties are all stripped and you're surrounded by disorganization (few rules and little supervision: Ginnie and Janet's motto after eliminating BLs when asked who would now be in charge of a branch-"Everyone's in charge.") after years of structure your skills can go into hibernation. Bad work habits are now commonplace and it will be difficult to change this back. New unproductive positions such as TRS (Computer Aides) will plague the BPL since they will be saddled with the salaries for people who do not produce. Same with the BOS. BPL is again stuck with a higher salary rate for a job which in the future will most likely be changed back to Senior Clerk. People with MLS's are supposed to be running the branches, making key decisions and filing reports, not people with high school degrees. The Managers now in place on the 3rd floor are the same people who presided over the library's destruction. They obediently followed Ginnie's orders and although most of them had backgrounds similar to ours either at Central or the branch libraries they not only participated (they had to or they'd be replaced) but often at meetings insulted their long time colleagues. I can remember hearing about how bad Branch Librarians were from people that were former BLs. When they announced the formation of weeding teams we heard about how unprofessional librarians in the system were. That we discarded books that we personally didn't like and were all prejudice. I know I wasn't and we not only ordered books with objectivity and professionalism but maintained the collection with the same standards. Even though these people on the 3rd floor are chameleons I can't see them dismantling the systems they spent several years phasing in. The new Director will have to replace them and start over with a clean slate.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 24, 2006 9:15 AM

Anyone who didn't live through the 1970s and 1980s in New York should see Spike Lee's movie "Summer of Sam". For a more scholarly look at what happened to New York's social democratic state ( which included BPL) in the 1970s, read Joshua Freeman's "Working Class New York". The Republican right took advantage of New York's fiscal crisis to smash labor unions and social services. New York became a test case for the Reagan revolution and, later, the neoliberalism of the 1990s.

BPL never recovered. When Gomez arrived in the late 1990s BPL was a mess. There was essentially no computer system. The buildings were literally falling down. There were many librarians but they spent most of their time performing tasks that should have either been automated or performed by clerks. Librarian salaries were extremely low. The book collection was atrocious. Ninety percent of patron requests could not be filled. And yes, many of the BLs had been reduced to petty bureuacrats after years of working under these conditions. Most had lost any trace of the professional values they may have acquired in library school. The place was demoralizing.

People like Gomez and Cooper came to BPL with visions born from the bright gleeming corridors of high technology corporations on the West Coast. They had no intention of returning BPL to a functional part of a social democracy serving the People. Their politics and their vision was anti-labor and pro-corporate business. Just the thing to satisfy our billionaire businessman mayor (who attempts to slash the library's tiny budget every year).

Still, let's recognize some of the positive changes Gomez and Cooper brought about, such as a modern computer system and renovated buildings. I happen to think the creation of the TRS and BOS positions was also a positive development. From the point of view of librarians, these positions relieve librarians of tasks that can be done by non-MLS staff and allow librarians to focus more on professional duties. From the point of view of clerks, it's about time they had an opportunity to improve their earnings. The salaries for these positions are by no means exorbitant (low to mid 30s).

Trouble is, of course, that librarians also lost professional duties (most notably, material selection). They were also harassed with involuntary transfers, jobs that required them to rotate between branches, and a stripping away of their managerial authority. For that we have the "cluster" system to blame.

Posted by: goodoldbpl | June 24, 2006 1:32 PM

Pre-Gomez: Buildings in terrible condition, drastic improvement under MG.
I disagree about the book collection: much better condition than now and a respect for books of all types, not just bestsellers. Computers: BPL still had the same ancient photocharge machines that had been our circulation mainstay for decades into the late '80s and early 1990's. Our staff at that time had to link the entire collection. I felt that's when my eyesight starting going. I know that BPL tried to get funding for an on-line public computer, but it didn't happen until approx. 4 or 5 years later, probably after Gomez came to BPL. After the card catalogues were discontinued we had book catalogues and then (I think) a CDR catalogue. BPL started with GEAC and we were able to process computerized reserves. It wasn't terrible but was limited. It didn't have the capablity of the more modern systems like Millenium. There were no reserves on videos (at that time at only about 10 branches-expanded to all agencies around 1999 or 2000) or bestsellers. Each branch would order popular materials for their own location so everyone had them. They weren't requestable so these books and videos would go out immediately and spend little time in transit. Now with almost everything reservable and with limited trucking and interchange, these materials spend a lot of downtime "in transit." In BPLs' defense computer systems in libraries were just developing during that period and most big libraries had starter systems similar to GEAC. The old time Brooklyn people who ran the library weren't efficient and they could be very petty. But I was never miserable. There were bad supervisors, like anyplace else and things could be unfair, but overall staff morale was pretty high. While Martin made some good moves his first few years and elevated BPL in terms of image and fundraising capablility there were way too many iniatives and not enough staff to handle it all. There was plenty of quantity but not much quality.While many of these projects might have sounded good on his resume, in fact most of them didn't work. We were overextended. Things started becoming disorganized, there was so much training and so many meetings that we often didn't have enough staff at the branch. I felt that BPL was a three ring circus under him. And then he just left a few months after Sept. 11, the darkest day in the history of New York and this country. It looked like curtains for city finances and the library. Most people I knew in the library thought he was a phony and were happy to see him go. I had never heard of Ginnie Cooper but I looked at her credentials and like everyone else saw that she had the experience and was well qualified. It all went downhill after that. Her first meeting with us I can remember her almost challenging us. She knew that Martin had been unpopular with staff. She let us know right then that she was great friends with him and believed in many of the same ideas that he did. I met her exactly one time. Not personable like Martin, a guy who could one minute talk to working guys and chat with them and an hour later be in Manhattan attending a function with somebody like Mrs. Astor. He is a skilled guy and not many people can pull that off. Instead Ginnie was cold and unfriendly. She didn't ask me anything about myself, she barely acknowledged my presence. Maybe because she knew it was the beginning of the end for me and my career at BPL. I don't hold any grudge against her for that. She has a right to be herself. But she has no right to be disrespectful to others. I can honestly not think of one positive accomplishment she had at BPL. As for change, Ginnie's favorite word, whether it be 5 year plans, transferring people after their first year in the library, etc. it's always been here. She didn't invent the term.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 24, 2006 4:43 PM

Back in 1996, I got to meet an agent of the Galactic Empire who was operating in NYC. Shortly after, I journeyed to outer space where I got to meet Emperor Palpatine. In 2001, I visited planet Coruscant and in late 2001 me and another native Earthling, a girl, were taken aboard a Super Star Destroyer to meet with the Emperor and Darth Vader. I also recently fought in a combat mission alongside Darth Vader and His Stormtroopers where we wiped out the enemy completely. Everything about the Galactic Empire looks exactly as presented in the movies.

I now want to tell you about how the wrath of the Empire is going to be unleashed against the alien Black Nebula criminals who control the Brooklyn Public Library because of their anti-Imperial activities. Three Hutts-Cooper the Hutt, Jennings the Hutt, and Carrano the Hutt are prominent. Cooper the Hutt was the public leader operating out of the Central compound, but the real leader who calls all the shots behind the scenes is the Black Nebula crime lord, a leprous, bestial, simian Morgukai alien named Robert Wagner (no connection to the former mayor) who is based at the Highlawn compound on Kings Highway. Other high ranking criminals in this organization are the Falleen alien Janet Kinney and four Clawdite aliens, the pygmy Mary Graham, Linda Cohen, Eileen Muller, and Audrey McConney. Two other Falleen aliens, the moronic Ron Krische and the formaldehyde faced hag Margaret McCann are in charge of security for this organization and another Falleen alien, Carol Morgen is a spy. Also, the dangerous Anzati alien Tony Rico has transferred his operations to Goya foods for the purpose of widespread poisoning of the food supply. These names mentioned are only the most important but the entire Brooklyn Public Library system is a criminal Black Nebula operation.

These vermin have no chance against the might of the Empire. By the Power of the Dark Side of the Force, Galactic Empire Nordics will kick their asses from here to hell and back!!!

Posted by: KeithLowe2005 | June 24, 2006 4:51 PM

"Former BPL employee" is right that the book collection is even worse now than it was pre-Cooper or pre-Gomez. One of the crimes of the Cooper regime was the destruction of the collection. They achieved this through needlessly voracious weeding, incompetent centralized material selection, and by discouraging us from adding donated books to the collection (who would like to talk about "Better World Books?).

Posted by: bookburning | June 24, 2006 8:40 PM

THE STATE OF OUR PROFESSION:
Some of the most prominent people in our field are Library Directors.
They are often Presidents and officers of Librarian Associations. You would
think they would be advocates for our profession. Instead some of them have
turned their backs on their colleagues and are actually involved in planning
the demise of our beloved profession. They call it change but some of them
are planning to downsize library staffs (clerical and professional). In some libraries they are beginning to introduce Self Check Out machines. We have been to meetings where our management has extolled the virtues of these machines and has even claimed that these machines can handle as many as 98% of check out transactions. Library systems are now outsourcing work that staff have traditonally done. BPL may well eliminate staff from being involved in any cash transaction. Transactions can now be done through a machine. Professional staff have had their duties cut. We are no longer involved in ordering books and materials (everything is now centrally ordered). And Branch Librarians (Managers) have been eliminated. There is
actually be no one in charge of an individual branch. Para-professionals
have also been hired to do the work of MLS Librarians. So where does that
leave us? The writing is on the wall. There will be fewer public service
staff and more machines. Now our former Director was making well over $200,000 per
year. Now if we can be eliminated, what about her. Do we really need Directors for that kind of money. Maybe some day our Trustees will finally see the light.
P.S. Why did she become a librarian anyways if she hates books and people. I can think of 200,000 reasons.

Posted by: former bpl employee | June 25, 2006 10:25 AM

Dear Concerned:

The reason why Lucy Gertner was so severely punished for her attempts to protect BPL's literary collections while the serious offender librarian you mentioned only received a 5 day suspension and transfer, is that Lucy Gertner was charged with insubordination by Madeline Kiner, the Manager of the Division of Language and Literature. Ms. Kiner, whose reading tastes ran to such titles as "Everything I Ever Wanted" and "All I Ever Needed" by Jo Goodman, a Romance writer, was decimating the literary collections of Spanish, German, French and other foreign authors as well as lesser known English writers. When Ms. Gertner objected to these losses, she was harassed and her appeals to Ginnie Cooper ignored. She subsequently wrote to ALA's Committee on Professional Ethics seeking their intervention, and it was for this complaint, which caused embarrassment to the library, that she was punished by the manufacture of trumped up charges of insubordination.

Hopefully, the revelation of all these matters will prevent their recurrence in the future.

Posted by: BPL Librarian | June 26, 2006 12:19 AM

to needourownblog: Your suggestion that our union set up an anonymous blog for BPL staff will certainly fall on deaf ears -- what actions did the union take in response to all the managerial abuses documented in this blog?

Posted by: doubtful sympathizer | June 26, 2006 1:03 PM

As for unions and the library, first off we're saddled with being affiliated with DC 37. Not only have they in the past been proven to be corrupt, but just recently they made a deal with the city of New York to give back benefits for workers that it had taken decades to attain. And what did they get in return. A few decimal points and a feather in the Mayor's cap. Not the first time they gave it up, either. Years ago they traded one week of AL for beginning staff to gain one holiday (MLK birthday) that is now a Federal holiday, anyways. As for our local, since when does a union allow management to give away work to outside interests. Many of our books are now being linked by Baker & Taylor staff, not BPL employees. While the past two library managements have bragged about how no one would lose their jobs, this is true. Only because they can't fire anyone without cause. But the no. of staff at BPL in the future will be fewer due to this, something that no union is supposed to give up. So for all of you who are happy in your demoted jobs and others delighted that they do not have to link books when you leave you will not be replaced.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 26, 2006 11:02 PM

Newest posts are from people who feel defeated and sound like victims. We SHOULD demand our local to provide us with the blog (similar to having their own website, it's not a big deal and does not involve any expenses) Who better than library workers should always remember that information IS power?! We need our forum to keep each other informed of all abuses! This will help us to stand for our causes.

Posted by: needourblogwithlocal | June 27, 2006 12:44 PM

I went to a meeting at Grand Army Plaza a few years ago and before the meeting I saw something I couldn't believe. Our union President, Eileen Mueller hugging and kissing Mary Graham. I was beside myself. Here we the staff were facing what should have been our biggest challenge and our supposed leader is kissing the enemy. You know you're in a no win situation when you see something like that. Eileen's a nice lady but she couldn't fight her way out of a paper bag. What we needed was an adversary, not a kissing cousin. Mary then at the meeting continued to rip professional staff saying how bad all of us were and stated that if we couldn't handle change we could get the hell out. Talk about no respect. Of course during this entire meeting Janet was sitting in the audience clapping like a trained seal and watching and listening to every word Mary said. Clustering is a failure and I've heard that it's been reversed in some organizations. Almost all municipal agencies have a seasoned professional as the supervisor of a location. Whether it be Social Security, schools, the Post Office, libraries. It's good to hear that in some places like King County in Wash. State the staff and union is resisting and fighting back. They're not only helping themselves but helping the public to have better run libraries.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 27, 2006 10:06 PM

this lady seems as if she absolutely sucks and does not need to be in this position. we need to just shut down and erect a new dc library system

Posted by: me | June 28, 2006 10:56 AM

Have we, the students, the ones who need the libraries, have a say? Students would require a little attention in this affair. It's OUR libraries. Why would you give up so much money to one person instead of giving that money to school developments?

Posted by: J. Damonsin | June 28, 2006 10:57 AM

Being a student i should have a greater opinion on this travesty since i will use libraies more. I go to DC public schools and know the horrible condition they are in. Why is it so hard to put updated computer technology in libraies.What will hiring someone new really do to improve conditions. Give me and my peers the way to show we care and know about our city!

Posted by: GER | June 28, 2006 10:57 AM

Have we had a chance to say something?We i am a student of DC.Do we at least have a place where we can do have a little saying.If you have not noticed we are important

Posted by: David | June 28, 2006 10:58 AM

I don't know if hiring a new director will make substantial changes in the city's libraries. Of course I wish the best especially being a student in this city. While I believe it's considerate of you to be the whistleblower of this action, I don't think it is fair to denounce this woman before she steps foot into the office. Hopefully, for the city's library system's sake your accusations are wrong. If not, we know who to thank. :)

Riah

Posted by: Riah, A DC student | June 28, 2006 11:53 AM

As a student of the District of Columbia Public Schools I must say after researching many things concerning our public, I am certainly dissapointed. Our government gives entirely to much money to certain individuals and forgets about schools as a whole. As far as Ms. Cooper goes her past is her past. None of us here have a hell or heaven to put her in. She'll pay for her wrongdoings IF she has committed anything she is accussed of. I believe the best thing is to observe closely what she'll do in the future and then decide if she should stay. However, as a student I believe a salary of 205,000 yearly is entirely too much if we don't have toliet paper in our bathrooms. The last individual in here position didn't die or go hungry with a salary of 120,000 yearly and thats what Ms. Cooper should be paid.

Posted by: Student of DCPS | June 28, 2006 11:58 AM

If Ginnie continues as she did with BPL students will suffer. You will not have sufficient materials to cover assignments because these are not high circulation items. Her goal is make the library into Amazon.com and Blockbuster. Fast access to popular materials, very little basic non-fiction or classics on the shelf. As you might have read even the Central Library here has divested themselves of specialized materials in the Divisions that students often request. I don't know what the state of your computer resources are and if the public has remote access to databases. This is a great and expensive resource for a library system and generally BPL did a good job in this area.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 28, 2006 12:52 PM

do us students have a say in this?if so where can we go to say something?have we even had a say in this?i want to say something because changing the manager of a dc public libray does nothing but change who manages the library.something needs to be done. and i want it done now.

Posted by: David | June 28, 2006 7:25 PM

I'd just like to ask one question to you kids. What do you expect out of your library. Are you serious about being students. Do you want your neighborhood library to have a good collection of books and information (including reference books which in BPL have been downsized to almost zero) and professional librarians on hand to assist you and help get you started with your research. If so it would truly be my pleasure to offer you my many years of library experience and to help you in any way I can. Do you really want to use library computers for research and expect databases with legitimate sources and up-to-date information incl. an excellent on-line collection of periodicals and newspapers. Do you expect your library to be quiet and have study areas. Or do you use the library computers to go on MySpace and Xanga and think of the library as a hangout where you can do whatever you please, use offensive language, be loud, etc. This is what we've seen in Brooklyn and why so many of us are so angry. If you are a student and that's what you see in your DC libraries and you don't like it then tell that to the DC Board of Trustees. They just might listen to you.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 28, 2006 11:06 PM

Just one more point. When I got out of college I wasn't sure what career path to take. I even went into VISTA, which was at that time the domestic Peace Corps. I wasn't interested in making money, etc. I just wanted to do something that would help people. I decided to become a librarian because I loved the aesthetic of the public library. Our library systems were set up to provide every person in the community with access to books and information. And to give the public a place to pursue independent education. You didn't have to go to an institution to learn you could educate yourself. And many did. Some of the greatest thinkers and people in the performing arts walked into the doors of the Brooklyn Public Library over the years and found a treasure chest of literature. For that reason I've always been motivated in my job and have given 100% every day of my career. When you're doing something meaningful it's easy. What I love about you kids is your idealism. You expect the right thing to always be done. I do, too.

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 29, 2006 9:25 AM

We have tried. It doesn't work. Being younger doesn't give us any real say. Some pretend to listen but they really could't care less.(Some people anyway) Not every one goes to MySpace, some truly go there to study.

Posted by: J.Daminson | June 29, 2006 10:17 AM

Is it our fault? Many a day i could not get the materials i needed in my libraries to complete an assignment. Also since we are "kids" do you actually think that our voices will be heard? They will just say a few nice words and not deliver. Thank you for the criticism but please do not be bias because it not just our libraries, adults use them to.

Posted by: GER | June 29, 2006 10:19 AM

i think this librarian sucks. she should not be allowed to work in the dc library system. go back to brooklyn

Posted by: dice_kid | June 29, 2006 10:39 AM

Well, she doesn't have to suck. It's your library not hers so don't let her suck. You can become involved citizens if you desire. You can write letters to the Board or even post on blogs like this. Talk to your parents. Go to Trustees meetings which are open to the public. Be smart. Go to your libraries and write down the problems. If a certain branch is dirty, document it. If it's noisy or unsafe, write it down and date it. If there are no books on the shelf and there should be put it on paper. If you don't get good service or are treated rudely write it up. You have to have a paper trail. If you don't want peace and quiet or care about books and only go to the library to fool around then do nothing. Because that's what you probably have now. The squeeky wheel gets the oil. Don't say you have no power. You do!

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 29, 2006 10:56 AM

When I was there, I went to a meeting with Janet Kinney and other librarians. One librarian, in particular, expressed his concern to Janet about security, recounting having a knife pulled on him and having to put out burning holiday decorations set ablaze by local youths. The fact that they would tie the hands of security after this and other anecdotes were expressed is proof of DELIBERATE endangerment of the staff on the part of the Cooper-Kinney crew. They also inexplicably removed the security cases from brand new DVDs at Central, supposedly to be more welcoming to the public. The mass theft that followed shows how they were running the system into the ground.

Posted by: concerned | June 30, 2006 9:22 AM

it doesnt matter if we do go to our superiors. they wont do anything because they are scared of the system

Posted by: dice_kid | June 30, 2006 10:37 AM


Our Board of trustees are made up of very prominent people, some of which are CEO's of major corporations. So why did they allow this madness to happen at the Brooklyn Public Library for so long? For example when Ginnie Cooper was exposed in a newspaper articles for stealing 6 weeks of vacation time, and for using Library funds for a trip to Hong Kong, that was not approved, they had the nerve to send out a memo the staff saying that they are still supporting her. This woman who is firing people left, right and center for legal sick time issues and, a various bogus violations is getting support from the Board. When Enron got into all it legal problems the wise, people separated themselves form the mess they didn't back the mess. Wake up people.
Janet Kinney and Ginnie Cooper were supposedly hired because for their ability to increase circulation, but did anyone consider these fact.
Janet Kinney and Ginnie Cooper came from a much smaller rural system, that is much slower, than Brooklyn. Yes they had the technological resources that we lacked, but they did not have the volume of diverse communities that we have in Brooklyn, nor did they have as many branches. Brooklyn is the largest borough in New York City and we have a large population.
I don't know what they did in Multnomah, but in Brooklyn, we were forces to throw away a lot of books. Okay, now that the shelves are empty, maybe it's supposed to fool someone into thinking that the books are circulation. Well that wasn't fooling anyone. The patrons were all complaining about the lack of books all their shelves. The patrons were asking us if their library is closing, because the shelves are so empty. Yes they were ordering books, but because of the new centralized ordering system we had little say on what we received. So you get a lot of items that were useless to your particular branch and will probably be throwing out in a few months due to lack of circulation.. You did get a few copies of items that would circulate in particular branch, but it won't get on the shelves because of it will be on hold Janet Kinney and Ginnie Cooper was trying to make Brooklyn generic and that is impossible. They didn't understand the simple concept of supply and demand.


Janet Kinney and Ginnie Cooper were responsible for the lack of security in the library. We attended a meeting on our Unattended Child Policy and we were told that if we saw a seven year old child in the library wondering on his own during school hours we should not ask the child why he is there because that child might be home schooled. In my years of working in the library I have never, been told such crap. New York City has laws about truant, children, not to mention child welfare laws. I could not believe what I was hearing. Thought what they were saying was not in our policy the head of security along with several others in charge were telling us to condone this nonsense. Security officers were asked to allow unruly child to stay in the library and disrupt the library. Since the new heads of security has taken over security there has been no security. Our best officers have quit or have been fired for ridiculous things like taking sick days that are legally given to them under our city contract and union laws. The library has gotten wilder and though the patrons complained and Janet Kinney and Ginnie Cooper did nothing. The staff was asked to attend a mandatory workshop called "Creating Safer Libraries. In this workshop we were basically being trained to handle issues that would normally be handled by security. One colleague followed the Creating Safer Libraries procedure and got her finger cut off, and administration told her it was her own fault.

Guess what we are not a security guards, babysitter or social workers, we are libraries.
I hope that our Board of Trustees learns from their mistakes. And I pray that Washington puts their foot down and doesn't allow Ginnie Cooper to disrespect you like she did Brooklyn.



Posted by: Soon to be a former BPLer | June 30, 2006 5:37 PM

Nice of Ginnie and Janet to stop by for a mere three years, rip everything apart, leave the place in disorder and then leave for another destination. I thought she'd at least be around for the term of her contract only because she so desperately wanted the million dollars. Even in five years do you think she could have possibly accomplished her goals. What she wanted to do was to turn BPL into a fast food restaurant. I guess you can say that literally, because who knows take out pizza could have been next. You could order your books and your pizza at the same time. I think her plan was to greatly downsize public service staff and replace them with more trucks, drivers and eventually warehouses to store books. This clustering nonsense was just an interim step until everyone was out the door. She wanted a lightning fast holds system. And was willing to give up everything else including us to get it. But is this the library of the future that the public wants. And can you change over to this in five years. The DC Trustees have probably given her the run of the show. Like our trustees they just want to be around for the gala and special events and to not do any real work at all. Just give speeches at All Staff Day about how wonderful the staff is while they're planning on cutting all of our throats. But the question to them is do they truly want these kinds of services? And is the library in competition with commercial book and video stores. Or are we a different species. Are we a library?

Posted by: former BPL employee | June 30, 2006 9:56 PM

The changes introduced by Ginnie Cooper during her tenure as Executive Director of BPL deprofessionalized and demoralized the librarian staff and hurt the residents of Brooklyn by removing the educational and recreational resources each child and adult should have access to. The new policies were especially harmful to those who didn't have the advantages of access to technology or other alternative sources of information, their sole source of information being the miserably sparse collections they found when they visited their local libraries. Though the head of one of the Divisions at the Central Library justified these collection changes by stating that current library patrons were no longer the same as those who had frequented the library in former years, the implication being that they are not as educated or equally inquisitive, these changes are certain to block access to intellectual discovery and academic success for current library patrons. How will current users achieve the success of earlier generations when deprived of the learning opportunities previously available in libraries? A thorough examination of the branches would reveal that many are in shambles and public revenues are being wasted on transient and worthless items.

We need leaders with vision and respect for learning to head our libraries, not bureaucrats concerned with meaningless numbers and falsely inflated reputations.


Posted by: Former BPL librarian | July 1, 2006 1:03 AM

What BPL and DC needs:

-good common sense: no more visionaries needed, just good, solid, meat and potatoes librarianship

-clean and aesthetically looking buildings

-safety:well-trained and well paid security at branches, esp. those where there are problems-no staff member should have to work at a place where they are threatened by thugs-and no ultraliberal solutions to problem patrons-if they are abusive they have to leave. Gangs have to be kept out. No psychoanalysis of troubled youth or attempts to find a play area for their aggressiveness in the library. Lets keep it safe and secure for the many kids who come in our doors and want to read, study, etc.

-Supervision and rules at the branch level: no more EVERYONE IS IN CHARGE. It's a cowspit concept. People have to come in on time, do their assigned work and follow supervisor's instructions. There is a person in charge and that person is the Branch Librarian. An experienced professional. The BL is accountable for their actions. If they are unsatisfactory demote them, but don't judge everyone on the actions of a few.

-Job satisfaction: Librarians order the books at their locations. It can now be done electronically and quickly. Reviews and information are accessible online. No more 70 plus lists per year.The process can be streamlined and very efficient. And the branches will then be spending their book funds much more intelligently and judiciously. Under the supervision of OMS. No disrespect from management. People are treated individually not in batches. No mass transfer of everyone in a grade which is what they did with all of our Senior Clerks. No unwarranted demotions. There is a structure set up to deal with unsatisfactory employees.

-good general book collections at every location. Including reference books. Our patrons do not want to travel for the basics they expect it at their neigborhood library. A guy should be able to get his kid an algebra book.

-the best holds system the library can afford. No UPS. Work within your limits and infrastructure. If you can't then lower your goals and perform the best you can at a different level. Do not overextend and break the infrastructure. If we don't have enough trucks and drivers then go back to no reserving of bestsellers and videos. They can be bought for every location and will circulate immediately and spend less time in transit if non requestable.

-More pleasant atmosphere in library-for example, current issues of magazines should be kept in house so people can come in and read them. Just as we always did before Ginnie. Water only, no sodas or food of any kind. Kids can eat their chips outside. Let's keep the place clean and respectable. No cell phones.

-Educate the Board of Trustees and political establishement about libraries. Circ. statistics are important but not the only measure of success.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 1, 2006 2:28 PM

I looked over your ideas and have these responses. Please take them in the spirit of debate and not as an attack.
--Safety and Security--how many scandals have they been involved in? As well, legally, kicking people out of branches is not as clear cut. These are public buildings and there are legal processes for banning people. The library has been in trouble more than you know. Plus, please do not descend into anti-gang hysteria, for it will add fire to the anti-young black male attitude in many of our branches. And one is dishonest if one denies it is out there. I liked some of Ginnie's ideas on security. I would like to see more special officers, but I would like to see them be more involved in conflict resolution and not in conflict escalation. I like that they don't wear those police like uniforms. The kids in my branches have too many negative experiences with cops, so I like it when special officers are less like cops and more like peacemakers.
--As for the Branch Librarian as ultimate supervisor, I disagree. I agree that a librarian should be in charge of professional library activities at the local level, but how does library school make you better at managing deliveries, maintainance issues, and opening and closing a building. Clerks have always done these things better, and there is a good reason for this--they do it all the time. I say this as someone who started out as a clerk in a library before going to library school. BL's were completely unreliable when it came to any HR issues. They would be the last person I would go to for advice on a timesheet or time/leave issue. I believe we just need a clearer delineation of who is in charge of what, but I do not want to see the same old BL idea resurrected. I had only one BL of many that I respected, professionally and personally. I had one BL who told me people on welfare were lazy and blacks were spiteful; another who would go on anti-immigration rants; another who missed the days when librarians and clerks would eat lunch separately--she thought it made clerks more respectful of authority; another who would rip up computer print outs in front of patrons faces. These are only a few stories. These people get scarier.
--Ordering books at each location. Have you read any professional literature in the last ten years? While there needs to be some adjustments made to centralized selection, it is much more efficient than every location ordering. If I could tell all the branch ordering horror stories, it would send shivers down people's spines. I had one ABL who would not let the children's librarian order paperbacks. This is why we had ten copies of some "children's classic" that no one wanted, and no popular materials. And no, not all popular material is made up of TV series and merchandise tie-ins. There is a wide range of popular material. Also, another story, there was one BL who refused to buy any popular African American novels. Guess what, his branch was primarily African American. What about the financial--accounting nightmares that occurred when each location ordered their own books. I would like to see us move in a more centralized selection direction, but with a twist. I would like different groups of librarians making those systemwide decisions, and OMS overseeing this. Like the old replacement list committees except instead of creating lists these groups would be doing orders. This would be just as inclusive as local ordering, but more progressive, efficient, and would develop branch expertise.
--As for holds, I think you are being unfair. We cannot limit ourselves to the interchange system; that is not fair to our patrons. Many patrons are content, not thrilled, with the holds, and think it is a vast improvement over what we did before. The biggest problem with holds is staff theft, and once again, if one denies it, one is being dishonest. Not every patron can get to the library and wait outside for the doors to open to get the lastest bestseller. You want to exclude holds for bestsellers and videos. First of all, I think such limitations are unethical and go against parts of the ALA Library Bill of Rights. Second, you are making decisions for patrons without consulting them. Many people are working and can not get in the library to wait around for a bestseller they want to read. People have so little pleasures in life and don't necessarily have the money to buy the books they want, so I don't see any problem in letting them put a hold on a bestseller that will be there for them on a late night or on Saturday. Our hours, thank you the Mayor and City Council, stink and are anti-working people. I don't know what I personally would do if I did not work in the library. I could not afford to buy all the books I want or rent all the DVDs.
--Good news, I agree with you about back issues. I do like the idea of branches having the latest three to six months. Even if it is just for browsing, I think it is nice to have the actual physical object on hand. Also, I agree with you on Snapple. It was a bad idea. As for food in the branches, it does not bother me as much, and I think some of my kids have calmed down in the afternoon as soon as they ate their snack. My cousin is a nutritionist, and she agreed. Feed kids in the afternoon, and they are better behaved and better able to listen. Although, I don't want to give them food as much as let them bring in their own.
--I appreciate that at least you offered a vision and had some ideas. I just don't agree with most of them. I am neither sad nor happy to see Ginnie go, yet, I do not want to go backwards. I liked some of her ideas and not others. But this is life and debate. I loved the whole Brooklyn Reads to Babies idea. I was able to do a program with some teen mothers, and have had some positive feedback on it. I hated her love of the Apple Store. I would hate to wear that stupid headset, and I will not wear polo shirt to work everyday. I think we need to agree to disagree, and also, if you want to be a decision maker, you need to also take responsibility. Ideas of workplace democracy are great, but, besides sharing the decisionmaking, we need to share the criticism and attacks. Staff is rarely willing to do this. We have to say to directors, when they make unpopular decisions with the public but popular with the staff, we will take the criticism with you. We will support you. I never hear people say this. They just want the decision making power and none of the accountability. When I see more ideas on workplace accountability built into ideas on workplace democracy, I will buy into it.
--I also hope that the next directors gives us as much support in outreach. I was able to get out of my branch and do some incredible outreach. I worked with shelters, senior centers, schools, healthcare facilities, even a landromat. It was great, and I felt so appreciated and effective.

Posted by: BPL Branch Employee | July 1, 2006 3:34 PM

Sounds like you had some bad experiences with librarians esp. BLs over the years. None of us are perfect and all of us are prejudice but it has to be kept deep deep inside and not come to the surface ever esp. at work. I can't defend anyone whose made racist comments. These people we can live without and there are ways of dealing with them. Discipline and progressive discipline. Most people of different races and cultures in BPL work well together and I think usually care about each other. I think you're generalizing about people and some of the stupid things they do and say. You have a right to your opinion about Ginnie and clustering. I'm pretty surprised that a professional librarian would be against librarian's ordering books, being in charge of an agency. As a librarian you think that people with a high school degree are more capable of writing reports, managing a building, etc. than someone with a Masters degree. Not in my experience but there are exceptions to the rule. In all areas of the business world it is the professional who is the boss not the secretary. We can delegate and work together (in harmony), but final decisions on running a branch should fall to the BL and if they're inferior the organization should deal with them. Maybe we have a different view of what a library should be. I don't look at it as a place for social outreach, there are agencies set up for that. We are a library. But everyone should be included. And it's great that you're trying to reach people in shelters, etc. who might feel disenfranchized. As for the gangs, they have to be kept out. No more wild zoos. NO fifty people around computers. That's not how you operate a library. Hopefully these kids can get it straightened out and get it together. But if you don't behave and act civilly you're ruining it for everyone else.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 1, 2006 4:48 PM

As for employee theft, there's bad apples in every barrel. It happens in all places of employment, I hear that restaurants are the worst. You literally have to count the silverware, etc. I would hope that if you did see co-workers stealing money from the Circ. desk or DVDs that you would inform your supervisor and Security. It happened to me a few times at two different branches. In both cases the clerical staff told me about it and we worked together with Regional Librarians and Security to get rid of these people. Most BPL staff are just honest working people and have too much pride and self respect to steal. With good supervision at the branch level these problems can be handled. As for gangs, obviously they can enter a branch just like anyone else. I'm not for banning anyone. But if they are unruly you can ask them to leave and if they refuse, this is trespassing and they can be arrested. I'm more concerned about the kids and adults who come into a library and want to peacefully use our resources. No more wild zoos.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 2, 2006 11:48 AM

I was wondering if anyone knew exactly what G.Cooper did to the Trustees to turn them against her. How exactly did she "cross" them?

Posted by: Curious | July 3, 2006 1:22 PM

I agree with BPL Branch Employee in most respects. I don't think that what Ginnie did at BPL was all bad, just as I don't think that the "good old days" were all good. Nothing in life is all one way or another, although you might get that idea from reading many of the posts here. There are lots of shades of gray here between the black and white, and it doesn't hurt people to be a bit more flexible and tolerant in their thinking and in their perspectives to allow for the possibility of change. We all know that most people are resistant to change, there are tons of articles written about it, but if we don't change, how can we ever grow? We do new things - we succeed at some and fail at others - life is a constant learning experience, and we need to keep changing and growing - both as individuals and as an organization. It is also human nature to grumble and complain about things - and we can sure see alot of human nature in these posts...and not much offered in the way of constructive solutions, other than going back to the old way, which I feel is totally counter-productive. Let's learn from our mistakes and move on - taking the positive from the good work that we have been doing with us!

Posted by: Another BPL branch employee | July 3, 2006 2:21 PM

Even Hitler had his fans. "Hitler, there was a painter. He could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon--two coats!"-THE PRODUCERS

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 3, 2006 7:35 PM

The biases of the "bpl branch employees" as well as the biases of "former bpl employee" are plain to see. Both new and old employees were shaped by the environments they worked in. When people feel trapped and powerless, they often respond by learning to love their circumstances, no matter how awful. After all, what is the alternative? To suffer the pain of knowing how miserable you are? That takes more courage than most people have. Instead, they persuade themselves that everything is grand.

The rhetoric about "change" used by recent management teams is just a way to persuade workers to do what management wants them to do. Notice that the changes are never changes the workers themselves create. Workers are never allowed to make changes. This holds for the new management as well as the old. I remember a BL who threw a fit because I moved a chair. Moved a chair! The same BL threw another fit because I used a triangle instead of a square to indicate a footnote on a weekly schedule.

Some of the old BLs were excellent librarians. They cared about the public. They were well read. They were intelligent. They were nurturing supervisors.

Others were contemptuous of the public. I had one who told me to never order a book if it got a good review, since our public doesn't like good books. Many were barely literate and resented anyone who took books seriously. Of course they enjoyed doing clerical (or custodial) labor. They had no interest in traditional librarian duties, such as real reference work (you know, actual research), collection development, reader's advisory or educational programming.

It was inevitable that some new management team would come along and say, hey, wait, why are we paying librarians to do non-librarian work? Lets get rid of as many as possible, by making their lives as miserable as possible, and pay non-librarians who get paid even less than librarians to do the work that these librarians used to do. Since the old librarians have proven that you don't need librarians doing real librarian work to run the library, we don't need real librarians.

Hmmm, great idea. Except that a library without librarians is a miserable failure of a library.

Posted by: yet another bpl employee | July 4, 2006 12:33 AM

Everyone in the work force has their horror stories about supervisors. Having experienced supervisors at each site is not ancient history. This is the way business is done in this country. Of course some people hate any kind of supervision and all supervisors. There has always been a divide between the clerical staff and librarians in BPL. Esp. between Senior Clerks and BLs. There are plenty of horror stories about Senior Clerks, too. In most cases we all worked together and respected each other. The MLS is not a guarantee of excellent performance but it is our standard in the field of librarianship. There has to be accountablity and order at each branch and that isn't the case now.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 4, 2006 11:44 AM

To the "former BPL staff" who made an entry on June 27th. You must surely be a former employee and a senile one to think for one moment that Ms.Mary Graham is "the enemy." She was a librarian in the trenches. I know. I worked with her. She has supported her staff throughout and has spent many years PROTECTING staff from the abuses of the powers that be. Try to get and keep your facts straight. If you're this confused, you must have been a "wonderful" employee!

Posted by: Ms.GrahamSupporter | July 4, 2006 3:09 PM

Unfortunately we will probably never know why the Board of Trustees dismissed Ginnie Cooper. According to the newspapers it had to do with the Brownsville incident, the 6 weeks of unauthorized annual leave, and the expensive trip to Asia with the Urban Library Council. But we'll probably never know what really happened, just as we'll never know why we went to war in Iraq. We are not privy to the machinations of our leaders.

Similarly we'll never know why BPL was "clustered". We were told we went to war in Iraq to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. But after no WMDs were found, the war continued. We were told clusters in northern Brooklyn were an 18 month trial project contingent on demonstrated success. But when the branches in northern Brooklyn continued to suffer staffing shortages and their circulation continued to lag behind branches that were not clustered (both in absolute numbers and percentage growth), the clusters not only continued but expanded to include the whole system.

Some people think we went to war in Iraq just to get the oil. Some people think BPL clustered just to get rid of BLs.

But we really don't know. There is no reckoning and where there is no reckoning there is no accountability.

Posted by: To Curious | July 4, 2006 6:14 PM

Mary is a part of the most aggressive,anti-staff management in the history of BPL.

Posted by: former BPL Staff member | July 4, 2006 7:17 PM

I HOPE YOU ALL KNOW THIS IS A SET-UP BY THE MAN. I AM A DC STUDENT, AND I KNOW THE CONDITIONS OF THE LIBRARIES,THEY ARE TERRIBLE AND NOT WELL ORGANIZED. LIKE I STATED BEFORE, ITS NOT PEOPLE, ITS THE SYSTEM, WE KICKED OUT THE OLD ONE, SO DO WE THINK THAT A NEW ONE WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE. ARE YOU CRAZY, THIS IS JUST ONE LADY, SHE HUMAN LIKE WE ARE, AND SHE WILL MESS UP. AND RESPONDING TO A PREVIOUS POST THAT CALLED ALL DC STUDENT HOOLIGANS AND THE ONLY REASON WE USE THE LIBRARY IS TO SURF MYSPACE AND STEAL MUSIC, HAVE ONE QUESTION: WHY ARE WE TAKING OUR TIME TO RESPOND TO A POST, IF THE ONLY THING WE DO IS SURF WEB HE WEB AND LOOK AT MYSPACE.COM. STUPID IDIOT WHO WROTE IS SUCH AN ENIGMA.

Posted by: dice kid | July 5, 2006 2:28 PM

Former employee. I am so glad you're a former employee and not spilling venom in staff meetings and workrooms. Mary Graham is an honest, hard working woman with BPL in her blood. Go watch your soap operas!

Posted by: Glad you're a former | July 8, 2006 12:14 AM

Amen to that! A good note on which to end this BPL bashing session!

Posted by: BPL current employee | July 8, 2006 11:50 AM

I can't see anything productive coming out of ONS for the past three years. Their major initiatives have been the planning and implementation of: clustering, the TRS position and the BOS. All poorly organized and confusing. I predict that in the next 5 years all of these will be dropped. Which means their time was spent on nothing. Mary Graham has been Ginnie and Janet's parrot.

Posted by: former BPL staff member | July 8, 2006 1:38 PM

Poorly organized and confusing?
What's with ONS, TRS, BOS?

Brooklyn Librarians, if you're going to air all your dirty laundry here (Lord knows every librarian in DC is reading every word), please let the dirt make sense to folks outside of Brooklyn!

Posted by: Canary in a Coalmine | July 10, 2006 5:19 PM

Dear Canary:
ONS - Office of neighborhood Services; TRS - technical resourses specialist; BOS- branch opertions seupervisor. BOS in BPL is a clerical position without clearly outlined responsibilites and a very misleading abbreviation which of course creates conflicts.

Posted by: happyinbrooklyn | July 11, 2006 4:59 PM

Since BPL community (whether it is current, former, library supporter, or just plain Ginnie basher) have been spewing their versions of what life at BPL has been like during the Cooper/Kinney reign let me just explain what some of the acronyms mean to our neighbors outside of the BPL world.

ONS= Office of Neighborhood Services which currently is Dep't of NS. They are responsible for all aspects of the library operations outside of the Central Library -- They oversee the 56 branches around the borough of Brooklyn which was headed by Ms Mary Graham who put up with a lot from the administration to save her staff from the direct line of fire.

To uniformly address the staffing (or lack of) issues in the system each branch was designed to have the following:
AMLS = Assistant Manager, Library Services (a certified librarian)
BOS = Branch Operations Supervisor (Office Manager)
TRS = Technical Resource Specialist (not a librarian. Troubleshoot any and all patron related computer and technology related problems)

The broader scope of the hierarchy would be our cluster system where there are 14 clusters of 4 branches each managed by a Cluster Leader, and 3 MLS's (Manager, Library Services- Children Young Adult and Adults). Unlike the AMLS, BOS, and TRs's, these other staff members, who are all librarians, divide their time among the 4 branches in their cluster during a work week.

This should help you understand what has been discussed in the earlier blogs. I may not be a Cooper supporter but many of these people you are listening to are just too impervious to change and even if Jesus Christ came and took over the library would still find faults with his management.

So you've got enough information about what the person who is going to take over the DC system but I'd advise you to judge her for yourself.

Posted by: disbruntled BPL Staff | July 11, 2006 6:10 PM

First of all, Mary makes about $100,000 a year and is accountable for her actions and words. You can't separate her from Ginnie and Janet. She was a part of that management period. She is not an innocent bystander. Where do you get she was fighting them for the staff. If she had she would have been out. BOS is an insulting term for professional librarians. It is an upgraded Senior Clerk who supposedly does some of the former duties of Branch Librarians. Just one more comment. If you have problems with Ginnie's trip to Singapore then you have no further to look than your own local. A few years ago the union newspaper published a picture of our former union President, Marlene Rosenberg along with other local officers incl. Eileen Mueller in Hawaii at a junket paid for with union dues. What's the difference, it's the same thing.

Posted by: former BPL staff member | July 11, 2006 8:12 PM

Former BPL staff member. I can tell why you don't work at the library anymore. Who would want such a misinformed bitter person such as yourself still working at BPL. Good Riddance to you. Now shut up and find a job befitting of your talent such as Town crier in a place called "We Don't Give a Damn"

Posted by: disgusted | July 11, 2006 11:44 PM

No bitterness just facts. Sorry you can't face the truth. As a long time staff member at BPL I think I have the right to my opinion. Please point out the inaccuracies. So much for intellectual freedom.

Posted by: former BPL staff member | July 12, 2006 9:55 AM

Enough of all the bashing, apparently there must be some sense of intellectual being in this lady if she was even considered for a job. Stop being so hasty to criticize her faults and look at some sort of positive. As I have stated before, she is human like all of on this blog, so AS HUMANS WE WILL MAKE MISTAKES!!! I dont mean to sound irate, but the justification for the continuous bashing of this new librarian on this blog is unapparent. I know this post in itself is contradictory to my previous statements, but since then I have realized that this bashing has to stop. Where is the integrity? Former and present BPL employees are even beginning to denounce her. If there was such a problem with the way she was conducting her work, there is partial blame to her co-workers. Apparently she was utterly oblivious to the fact because no one had the gallantry to tell her. And now, they feel as if there is some sense of urgency to quickly get on this blog and have their voice heard. Before we even begin to revile and denounce this woman, let her do her job. And then if there is a sensible reason to condemn her, let her know and try to help her out before you criticize. That is the reason for most failed positions of authority, lack of communication. Take a look at Maria Theresa of Austria, her rule would not have been as succesful if it was not for her helping and interactimg with the "peasants." So lastly I ask that if we can stop the criticizing of this woman let us do. If not, then at least try to make it constructive criticism.

Posted by: DICE KID - DCPS STUDENT | July 13, 2006 7:35 PM

In reply to the student above, how would you like it if you were working on a project on your desk, and because there was, appropriately, a lot of books and papers on your desk (that you needed to do your work), a parent or step-parent came in and started screaming at you "This desk is too messy!!! Clean it up now!!! You're grounded!!!" You wouldn't like it. Well, that's exactly what the Cooper/Kinney crew did when they came to our branch. They were outraged that there were books on our work desks saying the desks should be bare. Where else were we supposed to repair or process books? The out of control dismantling of the collection (including lots of materials that students needed for their research) and the unprovoked, unjustified harassment of quality staff has been documented in numerous posts here. Who are you to tell us "this bashing has to stop?" We saw her degeneracy first hand. You weren't there so you're not fit to comment. Also, we have a 1st Amendment right to say whatever we want about her. A library is supposed to be a repository and collective memory of information. Cooper's irrational mass discarding of quality materials is the opposite of what a library should be. Her behavior wasn't simply "mistakes"-it was a deliberate unprovoked assault on staff and materials. "She's running the library into the ground" is the constant refrain I heard while she was there. She, her cronies, and anyone who defends her are lowlife slime.

Posted by: Wrath | July 15, 2006 7:42 PM

Cooper did the same irrational "blank desk" nonsense in Multnomah County Library's system. How are library staff supposed to do their work - to benefit the public, including students - if a director demands ridiculous things for no good reason other than "because I said so." She is a horrble leader, behaves maliciously, treats staff like useless replacable dirt, is adept at deception, and, given her attempt to get pay she didn't earn, skirts the rules as well. DC Public is in for superficial "improvements," but in reality, the library system will be a disaster in financial, educational, and cultural aspects under Cooper. She is megalomanical, vicious, and inept. You've been warned: she sucks.

Posted by: former multcolib employee | July 16, 2006 8:51 AM

Basically Ginnie was taking a dump on BPL staff for three years. And our staff let her do it. Hopefully the DC staff and union will monitor the abuses and at least put up a battle. Use your union dues on lawyers not trips to Hawaii. The sad part is that service to the public and branch operations suffered. All of her great changes brought poorer service and disorganization at the branch level.

Posted by: former BPL staff member | July 16, 2006 1:40 PM

If Ginnie's "changes" had improved the library then I would have supported her even though it might have been detrimental to my own career. I know that I had an open mind when she came in and was hoping that there would be improvements in BPL. I can't think of a department at BPL more clueless than ONS. Whatever structure we had they tore down. Even though Mary Graham and Linda Cohen are long time BPLers and former BLs they turned their backs on staff and were puppets for Ginnie Cooper. I'm not saying they're bad people and I'm sure they tried in their own way to help individuals having problems with those two witches. I'll give you one example of their poor judgment. After the BOS system was finally installed they named one former Senior Clerk as overall supervisor of BOS. Why they needed such a position I have no idea. But look at the person they chose. Someone who has such poor judgment in her personal life that she has not only brought embarrassment to her family but to BPL. There is no way she should be supervisor of anyone. Her appointment is baffling to anyone who knows the story behind the story.

Posted by: former BPL staff member | July 17, 2006 10:40 AM

When I went to see the newly renovated Bay Ridge branch, the "Reference Desk" was simply a bare table with a computer-no desk reference books, no drawers, no files etc. That is awful service to the public. Since desk reference books don't LOOK good to her, she wanted to get rid of them. Only SURFACE appearances matter to her rather than the nuts and bolts of quality service to the public. There were also NO public drinking fountains in this newly refurbished branch-probably part of a deal to give Snapple a monopoly.

Posted by: Wrath | July 17, 2006 4:40 PM

Her philosophy in a nutshell is delete as many books and materials as possible so that the library LOOKS neat. Patrons outraged at the empty shelves and students who needed recently discarded biographies for their reports are of no concern to her. Her vision is not the recipe for a quality library. In fact, her behavior is indicative of a PSYCHIATRIC condition. Previous posters who testified to her fits and tantrums bolster this argument.

Posted by: Wrath | July 17, 2006 5:57 PM

To give you a further example of how bad things became at some branches as a result of the wholesale disposal of the collections, a librarian I knew worked at a branch where there was no thesaurus available as the person in charge, the regional supervisor, together with the BOS, probably decided that such a resource should not be included in the reference collection, which sadly also lacked most of the other essential resources any library worthy of its name, should have available. Such discrimination was practiced in poor neighborhoods where people didn't cry out and protest such losses.

Posted by: wrath supporter | July 18, 2006 12:58 AM

So this Cooper character shows a penchant for a clean house. Why doesn't she just come down to DC and fire all Library administrators? Lord knows a visit to any DC Library demonstrates that nary a one can do the job required. Cut all ties to the past management of impotence, indolence, incompetance, and indifference.

A tabula rasa is the only way to free us of the stridently surly shoulder-shrugging we have been forced to accept as customer service.

A new day for DC Libraries can only come after a night of long knives.

Posted by: DC Awaits | July 18, 2006 7:46 AM

Not only was the Cooper administration against the idea of cluttered desks in workrooms, they were also against the idea of staff, except management, having their own computers. In our increasingly technological profession it should be considered a basic requirement, not a management perk, that all professionals have their own computers so we can do our work as well as keep our skills up to date.

Of course we want to be out there working with the public a good part of the day, but is it so demanding to ask for the dignity of coming back to your own desk with your own computer after a long stint serving the public? Cooper obviously saw the need to keep herself and top management up to date by trying to spend $20,000 for a small group to see the technologically advanced libraries in Singapore and Hong Kong. The Cooper administration made a lot of technological improvements for the public (wifi access, electronic holds, a new state-of-the-art printing and PC reservation system), but they didn't give the impression that they cared about the front-line staff, one of the library's most important resources.

I don't think it was lack of funds or wiring obstacles that decided that buying more computers for staff was a low priority: it was a lack of appreciation for the professional status of librarians and contempt for front-line staff in general. It is dehumanizing to be told to clear off your desk and deprofessionalizing to be given a desk in a small, airless roach-infested workroom crammed with other staff with no computer of your own.

Posted by: Frustrated | July 18, 2006 8:01 AM

In reply to DC Awaits, it's unfortunate that "shoulder shrugging" is what you encounter for customer service at your libraries, but with Cooper things will get much worse. With the mass discarding of books, you won't even be able to help yourself to information. She and her cronies are a "cure" that's worse than the original disease.

Posted by: Wrath | July 18, 2006 11:54 AM

Some of my ex-colleagues have expressed satisfaction with the idea of having little or no security in branches. They agree with Ginnie Cooper's policies of permissiveness in branches and one even said that some of "her kids" don't like cops and are offended by badges and uniforms. Of course these people are willing to give up any semblance of peace and quiet and respect in a library. No quiet zone, no books and study. The kids who want to do that can get out. Gangs can come in and do whatever they please. Curse at the librarian, cut their finger off, etc. I don't know how things now stand in DC branches, but if you like wild behavior then you have the right Director. If you want to know just how tough some of these Brooklyn neighborhoods are I can think of one story that comes to mind. Maybe about 5 or 6 years ago I filled in at a branch in our region and one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. I knew both the Senior Clerk and Security Officer. I had worked with them in the past and they were both tough cookies. The Senior Clerk was a lady who took no prisoners. The Security Officer was a big, tough guy. When I worked with him my biggest fear was that he'd knock heads together. So when I worked there I couldn't believe what I saw. There were kids running around, loud, cursing, gathering in large groups around computers, in complete control of the branch. My SO friend was in the background doing nothing. He was afraid to. The Senior Clerk who took no prisoners was hiding behind the Circ. Desk, a meek little mouse who didn't say a peep to anyone. They were more street smart than I was. What I'm trying to say is that no one likes to take customer abuse. Staff doesn't want to reform the world just to work in peace and survive each day. And this includes all ethnic groups.
All neighborhoods in Brooklyn have hooligans. Instead of letting this stuff go and tolerating it and destroying our libraries like Ginnie tried to do we have to eliminate these kinds of situations. No more wild zoos.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 19, 2006 10:35 PM

Well, the storm is brewing and the heads have started rolling in DC ... and Ginnie Cooper doesn't officially start until Monday! She moves through her library systems like a tornado on a path of destruction! Good luck with your new Director! http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/19/AR2006071901958.html

Posted by: goodriddance | July 20, 2006 4:13 PM

Through the centuries the poem or ode has been the best way to give people their due and to immortalize them in the proper fashion that they deserive. A good satirical cartoon is not bad either.
So all you writers and artists now is the time to do your thing.

So let the festivities begin.

Posted by: Ode to Ginnie & Janet | July 20, 2006 5:26 PM

DC staff, It's easy to see that your Bd. of Trustees is giving Ginnie carte blanche. I could tell just by what they said in their press releases and the statements of your Bd's. President. If not why the timing of these firings. If they were so bad why didn't they fire them weeks or months ago. This is even wilder than what happened at BPL. Heads rolled but it took a while for her to sharpen the guillotine blade. She might just dispense with her usual waiting period where she hires her expensive ALA friends to deliver studies of all departments all with foregone conclusions. In BPL she used that to bolster her attack. She will dispense of any program or idea that isn't her own. In Brooklyn we had a great art department that created posters, fliers and esp. a wonderful publication beloved by the Brooklyn public called the Monthly Calendar of Events. Over the years it was developed and improved upon and was a slick piece of artwork on it's own. It advertised all programs at BPL in one concise publication. So what did she do when she came to BPL. She got rid of it. Why-because it wasn't her idea. Then nobody had a clear paper trail on what activities were going on at the branches and Central. You had to use the internet to find out anything and it was difficult and confusing. Plus many of our customers don't know how to use computers, esp. senior citizens who love to go to library programs. Again, she is compulsive.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 20, 2006 9:21 PM

I'd just like to add one more thing about Ginnie's good friend, Martin Gomez. He's obviously very ambitious and I'm sure he has political ambitions. I think he'd make a great candidate. He's outgoing, affable and insincere. Everything it takes to reach elected office. Of course he did run once for ALA President: He lost.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 20, 2006 9:30 PM

OK then I'll give it a try. With the music from the TV show Davy Crockett:

Ginnie, Ginnie Cooper
Queen of the wild frontier
fired her a Deputy Director after 20 days,
got rid of Language and Literatures plays,
She doesn't care what anyone says,
She leaves early, comes in late,
and often isn't there

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 21, 2006 12:56 PM

Fired her Deputy after only 20 days? She has clearly improved on her game, firing the DC senior staff a week before even setting foot in DC.

Or maybe it's because the bureaucracy in DC is simply more efficient at processing the necessary paperwork.

Posted by: Davy Crocket fan | July 21, 2006 5:00 PM

I guess that Ginnie is just playing her own version of CAN YOU TOP THIS. She's miserable and terrible at Multnomah. And then she comes to Brooklyn and is worse. About the only thing she didn't do at BPL was kill someone with her own hands. Now she hasn't even started officially at DC and she's already firing people left and right. What she really wants to do in DC-fire everyone.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 21, 2006 6:55 PM

Cooper the Hutt
Dumb as a rhinocerus
Fat as a hippopatamus.

Janet Kinney
Lap dog to Ginnie
This viper does not look like Laura Linney.

Jennings the Hutt
Wallows in grime
He's degenerate lowlife slime.

Margaret McCann
I can't stand
Ugly face
Looks and talks like a man
Since it's walking trash
It belongs in the garbage can.

Posted by: KeithLowe2005 | July 22, 2006 5:10 PM

Finally, all the revelations about what was really happening at BPL, which our union president, Eileen Muller, kept hushed up, is being exposed on this blog. Continue to bring on the truth BPLers. Down with the self-serving managerial hierarchy and its servile union.

Posted by: real unionist | July 22, 2006 11:50 PM

Not only did Ginnie Cooper get rid of plays in Language & Literature, her "deputy," Maddy Kiner, turned the Division into a literary morgue, haunted by the spirits of the writers, poets, dramatists and wits who formerly occupied its now barren shelves. In ancient times, we lost the treasures of the Library at Alexandria while today, we are losing more recent links in our cultural heritage, only this time not to fire, but to ignorance.

Posted by: Missing you | July 23, 2006 12:27 AM

Just one story about Eileen. She and the union were totally ignored by Ginnie. Our local was so disrespected by BPL management that when BPL under Ginnie decided to follow some of the other systems and give librarians a small salary increase, Ginnie didn't even contact Eileen. She didn't know anything about it until the staff did. Later in the library's press release Eileen was given some credit by Ginnie for her help in this initiative. The truth is she did nothing and knew nothing.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 23, 2006 10:18 AM

Advice to BPL:

1. Get rid of Eileen Mueller. Send her back to the branches where she belongs. We'll see how much she likes clustering. Like her predecessor, Marlene Rosenberg she has a small group of followers that helped her get elected. They're a bunch of losers and as long as they're in power you'll always have the status quo.

2. Consider someone like her competitor in the last election, Robert Nerboso. The guy is a lawyer and a pretty obnoxious character. Management dislikes him and he dislikes them. I'm not completely sure that he would apply himself and take the job seriously. He would have to deal with the little details and do things like return phone calls from members. But I'd like to see him get a one year chance. At least things wouldn't be boring.

3. Like DC, do not expect any help from the Bd. of Trustees. They are not friends of the staff. They're pompous politicians and businessmen/women who know nothing about libraries. When Martin Gomez left most of us were happy until we found out they appointed someone 10x as bad. Don't assume anything different this time around.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 23, 2006 8:19 PM

I agree that we should get rid of Eileen Muller, and that in addition to Robert Nerboso, there must be other potential candidates amongst us who possess the intelligence, competence, honesty and grit we need to represent us professionally in our dealings with management and those government agencies which impact library policies and funding.

Posted by: BPL Librarian | July 25, 2006 1:08 AM

BPL staff should not have to work in unsafe conditions. No staff member should be threatened or cursed at or treated disrespectfully. And the Brooklyn public should not have to go into wild and crazy libraries. They and their kids should be safe in our buildings. This is not the current situation.

First, BPL has the resources to deal with these problems. We are the only library system in New York City that has a developed security force and a SO on duty at all or most locations. The problem has been in the administration of this department. Although SOs are full time benefit employees (and are even sworn peace officers) the department has always been mediocre and sometimes counterproductive. I had to deal with drunks on duty, guys who started incidents, etc. Not that there are not some great SOs at BPL.

So what Ginnie and the head of Security (of course her hands were tied under Ginnie) could have done was to get tough, reorganize the department and get rid of those individuals who created problems. We had a built in system called progressive discipline. I know McCann did some of that but the end result was negative.

The next step is to improve the recruiting process of SOs, be very thorough and possibly raise salaries. Try to get more quality people. If you get a bum at your branch you're better off with no one. We don't want to harrass the kids we just want to keep them in line.

Then develop an intelligent strategy for dealing with branches that have extreme problems. Work with the cops and do not allow unruly situations. This is what really was behind the incident at Brownsville. Permissiveness caused the atmosphere that led to this violence. It was bound to happen and will occur again unless things change.

Maybe not all branches need regular security. A presence is important though and uniforms and badges help them do their jobs. Some branches could need two SOs to keep things peaceful.

When you allow kids to be disrespectful you are not teaching them the right lesson. Allow staff and security to again deal with these situations and put out customers who do not follow library rules.

No more wild zoos.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 25, 2006 8:43 AM

I'd just like to remind staff that Linda Cohen was BL at Brownsville before she went to the 3rd floor as Mary's Asst. Brownsville was one of the original branches in the cluster model. It started as a special grant program for certain libraries in low circ. poorer neighborhoods. I can remember her talking about this project in glowing terms, saying how she threw out the rule book and tried to think outside the box. She, of course claimed great success (although never proven) and was able to parlay this into several big promotions. I believe she started the permissiveness that led to the incident at Brownsville. If you've heard her at meetings or dealt with her you know that she disdains any kind of supervision or order at the branch level. Staff can do whatever they please incl. making their own hours. At a meeting once she told us when asked that we were no longer allowed to tell subordinate staff they couldn't make personal calls at a public service desk or even use a cell phone when on duty. EVERYONE'S IN CHARGE and you can't say anything to anyone including unruly customers. We see her legacy at Brownsville.

Posted by: former BPL employee | July 25, 2006 9:56 AM

From DC Studios in WASHINGTON
Its Time to Play"WHEEL""UN""FORTUNATE"
It's Your Turn DC ...but first ! its Time to reveal the
letters from the last BOARD
--------------------------
# # C K ed was "on the Board"
--------------------------
to all who are playing today at home.this "includes "C"ooper"& "K"iNNeY"
.
"OK DC..Are you are Buying a vowel this round ???
"Pat ..we would like to buy a "U".
"YES DC" !!! U is on "THE BOARD .
"Ok spin again "." awe..you....lose a turn DC"

"ok ...Brooklyn Library we need your SPIN on this again" ...{SPIN} .......
" we would like the letter "F" Pat"
" Yes Brooklyn !! "F" is up on the BOARD,before DC's U
"Brooklyn what do you want to do? "
"Pat we would like to solve the puzzle"
"Is it %%%ked Pat?? "
Yes!! Brooklyn Library you've got %%%%ed ! "
"great..thanks Pat ..we did get %%%%ed
BUT.........Congratulations to DC !!! , you advance to the money round and a bonus chance at the mini-cooper(a JK limited addition).

Posted by: KeithLower2009 | July 25, 2006 10:32 PM

Is there anyone out there who would like to nominate Ginnie Cooper for the 2006 New York Times Librarian Awards?

Posted by: Poll Taker | July 26, 2006 11:27 PM

In her own words. Ginnie Cooper out of context from her Welcome Statement to DCPL:


"There are many exciting changes on the horizon!"

"I will set the course for the District's Library as we begin what well may be the most ambitious library transformation in the Nation."

"I have had more than 30 years of experience, and have improved libraries in five states."

"And I look forward to working with library staff..."

This coming from someone who was recently pushed out of a bigger job at a much larger library system. Now if you believe this I have some lakefront property in New Orleans that I could let you have at a bargain price.


Posted by: former BPL employee | July 29, 2006 11:35 AM

The contract that DC-37 recently negotiated with New York City promises 9.42% in compounded wage raises over 32 months. Yet, according to the New York Times, in the last year alone, "the government's main gauge of inflation, the consumer price index, rose 4.8 percent in the city and 26 surrounding counties" ("Cost of Living Is Going Up At Fast Pace In New York," in the NYT, June 15, 2006 pB5(L)) Union members will not be able to keep pace with inflation and their quality of life will fall.

To make matters worse, the union is telling us that one of the most important benefits the union won for us in the recent round of negotiations with the city is the right to live outside the city. The union says that this is a very valuable benefit since the average income of its members is only about $28,000.

The union must think we are all idiots. First, the rule that prohibited city workers from living outside the city was not being enforced. Repealing the rule changes nothing. Second, the cost of living in the counties adjacent to New York City is just as high as it is in New York City. Third, city workers will still be required to pay city income tax, even though private sector workers who live outside the city are not. Fourth, repeal of a law that smacks of feudalism is not a "benefit." It is a human right to live where you please. Fifth, forcing their members to live outside the city because their income is not keeping pace with other workers in the city is something the union should be ashamed of, not proud of.

Posted by: unionist2 | August 1, 2006 7:24 PM

Look, I've been an active critic of DC 37 for years. They suck. We get rid of one corrupt administration and then we end up with Lillian Roberts who not only has given away the ship to the City of New York incl. benefits it took decades to get but has herself been accused of favoritism and cronyism. But since there are no give-a-ways in this contract (esp. the rumored downgrade of pension benefits for new employees) with an over 9 % increase over three years retroactive to last July, I can only say good job and reasonable contract. I'd vote for it.

Posted by: former BPL employee | August 3, 2006 9:08 PM

Look @ the overall situation that exists @ the BPL before giving all the credit to
Ginny Cooper and Janet Kinney for its demise. Ginnie Cooper stepped into a library that was already crumbling-Ginnie & Janet's version of what should be and what actually needs to be done were way off. It was a no win situation from the beginning for Ginnie. Martin Gomez(previous director) is credited with much of the disaster--he's a politicion and not a library director. His poor performance was in the shadows of Judith Foust & Larry Brandwein(previous director-for too long) who actually started the domino effect. All has collapsed & with Ginnie Cooper being fired and Janet Kinnie's unprofessional departure was the perfect recipe for disaster. The very weak Union headed by a
very weak president only catapulted the BPL into a grand mess. Handing over the library system to non librarians (John Vitale) & the inexperienced other staff only adds to the mess. It will be years before the BPL can ever again gain recognition & any type of credibility. What is needed is for experienced librarians' to be given the library & turn it back into a library. Out with the games, horseplay, food & the overall recreational tone that now makes libraries looks like a playground rather than a library. The Board of Trustees must take off their rose colored glasses & see the library as a higher educational institution & stop looking to put into place/ positions staff that are of racially & sexually oriented nature. Pull the library out of the ashes & put staff in place that are true librarians & not politicians that only want to be politically correct. What a grand mess all of these self promoting directors created and left. A persona of being untouchable, claiming but not accepting
criticism, say this is how it is done at
such and such a place so it must be right,
making numbers matter more that anything and not caring how they are obtained; this is not how a library should function.

Posted by: former employee | August 4, 2006 5:09 PM

Carpathian Forest wants the 3rd floor and ONS vermin dead.

Posted by: JD Enthroned | August 20, 2006 4:01 PM

On Sept. 11, 2001 I was driving to work and I saw smoke on the right side of the highway. There were also cars pulling over to the side. I turned on News Radio 88 WCBS and heard how a plane had crashed into the WTC. Initial reports indicated that it was a smaller craft and probably an accident. I continued to listen but when they said a second airplane had crashed, in spite of the fact the reporters downplayed it, I was sure it was intentional and what it turned out to be. I had driven this way a million times but didn't even know you could see the WTC from the parkway. I arrived at my BPL branch and we immediately heard from management that all libraries were to be closed. Most of the staff was now watching the news on our branch TV. One of our newer librarians was a pregnant lady who was totally upset. Other staff members comforted her and someone offered to drive her home. So we put out signs for the public and we all left. As I walked into the parking lot there was little pieces of white debris, kind of like confetti flying in the air. Our library was maybe 10 miles from the WTC as the crow flies, so what we were seeing maybe an hour plus after the crashes were little pieces of the WTC. It was very spooky. I'll never forget it. It took hours to get home since many roads were blocked off and there was a sense of panic with the cops and fire engine sirens going off and their vehicles speeding to get to some destination. I finally got home about two hours later. Of course there are many stories. One of our kids went to a high school just a mile from the WTC and he didn't get home for hours and we couldn't contact him. When he did arrive he told us about how some of the kids were witness to seeing people jump to their deaths rather than burn alive. When the school released them the students were on their own. They didn't know what was going on. So they just ran like hell. He was afraid there could be poison gas. My brother's subway car was right underneath the WTC when the crashes occured. My brother-in-law worked at the WTC and his train came in around 9 am, just after it all happened. My wife was safe at home. She had worked at the WTC for a few years sometime after the first bombing. She got pregnant and her WTC employer went out of business. I don't work at BPL any more and while most of my memories are good ones, this is my lasting memory.

Posted by: former BPL employee | August 27, 2006 5:46 PM

Need I say more

Posted by: Lord of the Flys | August 29, 2006 1:36 PM

Doesn't it make you think of all of the above writers who list themselves as "former" BPL employees? Why is that?
Well, in my experience at BPL, I have found the supervisors and managers to be: petty, self serving, vindictive, back-biting, sneaky, manipulative, cunning, condescending, etc. etc..
The managers, especially those at Main, try to have the library be all things to all people. They can issue a directive, have employees expend time and energy carrying it out only to rescind it a month later. A lot of sense, huh?
Likewise, new positions are created without any clear job definitions, leading one to scratch their head trying to figure out who is in charge. Makes for a lot of chaos, frustration and dwindling morale. Ah, one mustn't forget the adage that it's not what you know but whom that gets one promoted in BPL.
Cooper may be gone but another shill will come along and fill the vacuum. Typical business as usual.

Posted by: Otto | September 12, 2006 4:20 PM

A horrible organization that is poorly managed. I would tell any librarian to seek employment in suburban libraries--higher pay and better all-around conditions. With the experience we've garnered in Brooklyn, we'd be on the top of the hiring list! Don't waste your time any longer with BPL! It isn't worth the aggravation.

Posted by: Danny | September 15, 2006 11:28 AM

The company selected by DC to build the interim library in Tenleytown at a cost of (at least)$450,000, namely, Keystone Plus Construction (Virginia), has been investigated by the DOJ for a variety of offenses, and found guilty of at least one. Who wants to predict cost overruns and shoddy workmanship?

Another example of our sterling local government at work!

Posted by: Dr. Melvin Blecher | September 21, 2006 11:06 AM

I agree with most of the postings. The hiring of this new director certainly raises a lot of eyebrows. Is it necessary for her to bring in her "right hand" Janet Kinney everywhere she goes, i.e. Oregon, Minnesota, Brooklyn, at a six figure salary?
All I can say is better you folks than us! keep your eyes open.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2006 6:24 PM

Someone wanted to know why a certain individual was appointed to oversee all BOS's? Well, she had a personality conflict with the Cluster leader for Highlawn, Ryder, Midwood and Kensington. And...sine the senior clerk was a good friend of Graham (as was the clerk's mother, grandmother, sister and aunt) she got a promotion! Not bad for someone with no computer experience, no college degree and no morals! Ah, Brooklyn for ya!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2006 6:27 PM

The cluster leader? Isn't that Rose McCleavey?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2006 6:28 PM

Mary Graham was a little librarian like the rest of us until a few years ago. She's a longtime BPLer and a likeable person who always treated everyone with respect. I can remember a few years ago a maintenance worker who was often crude and foul mouthed about management telling me that she was the only person on the 3rd floor that he liked because she did not pull rank over parking spots. Little things matter and people are judged on these small things. She had no ambition or thoughts of being in higher management and would often (like the rest of us) crack jokes and make fun of library administration. She got on the good side of Barbara Harris who was looking for people who would cooperate with her rough style and Mary found herself a RL. Then when Ginnie came over she was at least smart enough to know that Mary knew the organization on a person to person basis and was trusted and liked by the proletariat. Unlike her and Janet. And that she could possibly keep things civil and peaceful while she totally disrupted the organization and shook the apple tree. So surprisingly she kept Mary on and named her head of ONS. And that's when Mary sold her soul to the devil. It wasn't just the money. It opened up a new world for her. She was now an important person in the organization, not just a small timer. She went to conferences that were paid for by the library around the country. And sometimes even spoke at them. Her name was in Library Journal and other professional publications. She went to planning meetings and met with important people. Of course the price to pay was selling out her colleagues. Dismantling the staff, people being demoted for no reason at all and given meaningless positions, arbitrary transfers and just plain poor organization and bad decisions. "Everyone is in charge" is total nonsense and no other organization has this philosophy because it doesn't make any sense. She has not been up to making bureaucratic decisions. Again she is just a little lady. Nice to her family, her dog and her neighbors. But not up to corporate America's standards.

Posted by: former BPL employee | September 22, 2006 10:12 PM

The whole system--from the bottom on up are nothing but garbage: shills, good-for-nothings.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2006 12:37 PM

Although the current interim people are not experienced or up to the job of managing a major library system they are still 20x better than Ginnie. I've heard that you can now actually throw out an unruly patron instead of having to expose the staff and other public to their abuse.

Posted by: former BPL employee | September 29, 2006 10:56 PM

The main weakness in our profession is at the top. It's not just BPL. The
Amazon.comization of libraries, downsizing of staff, disregard for books, clustering, elimination of Reference desks and anything traditional, no personal spaces or desks for library staff is becoming widespread throughout the field. I'm convinced that any good consciencious librarian with some supervisory experience could do a much better job than the people in charge right now. They are running scared trying to make libraries into what they are not: bookstores and video stores. Fast food (in Ginnie's case right in the library) and fast service. I do not believe this is what our patrons really want. They are appalled when there is no reference copy of the Old Testament in the library or no books on trigonometry. These people running libraries are running scared trying to keep up with our technosociety but making unbelievably bad decisions with public funds. Like Ginnie they demand large salaries and like her are still not satisfied when they get 6 figures.

Posted by: former BPL employee | September 30, 2006 2:20 PM

The main weakness in our profession is at the top. It's not just BPL. The
Amazon.comization of libraries, downsizing of staff, disregard for books, clustering, elimination of Reference desks and anything traditional, no personal spaces or desks for library staff is becoming widespread throughout the field. I'm convinced that any good consciencious librarian with some supervisory experience could do a much better job than the people in charge right now. They are running scared trying to make libraries into what they are not: bookstores and video stores. Fast food (in Ginnie's case right in the library) and fast service. I do not believe this is what our patrons really want. They are appalled when there is no reference copy of the Old Testament in the library or no books on trigonometry. These people running libraries are running scared trying to keep up with our technosociety but making unbelievably bad decisions with public funds. Like Ginnie they demand large salaries and like her are still not satisfied when they get 6 figures.

Posted by: former BPL employee | September 30, 2006 2:20 PM

Fast food libraries coming to DC? That's what Fox News seems to suggest by praising the DC library for bringing out 4 new bookmobiles.

Two years after closing four branches to build 21-st century libraries, we residents are expected to jump for joy that they they have four canteen trucks doling out a few books and story minutes, just in time for winter so we can line up in the cold to use a computer.

Can I have some more please? Like a real library!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 2, 2006 12:25 PM

I head a rumour that a cluster leader, Rosita (Rose) McCleavey is a post operative transsexual. Her/His/Its given name was Rodrigo Esteban Rodriguez. Anything goes in BPL.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 2:18 PM

Why the character assasination above. A cheap shot to Rose who doesn't deserve it. What's she ever done to you. I don't think anyone deserves these kinds of personal attacks. Not even Ginnie and Janet.

Posted by: former BPL employee | October 3, 2006 7:30 PM

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