Urbana library board meets tonight

Urbana library board meets tonight

URBANA — As a controversial "weeding" procedure continues to upset patrons of the Urbana Free Library, board members will meet Wednesday night in a special meeting with only two items listed on the agenda: public comment and a closed session to discuss library personnel.

The special meeting at 7 p.m. in the Lewis Auditorium of the Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., comes days after a controversial "weeding" of books was halted in the library's adult nonfiction section.

Thousands of books were considered for removal — and many were actually removed and shipped away — from the stacks in what the library director has called the result of miscommunication. Director Debra Lissak said the "weeding" of books was never intended to be so extensive, and she issued an apology on the library's website last week.

Some of those books taken from art, gardening, pets and cooking will be returned to the stacks. Remaining items will go to the Friends of the Library for its book sales, according to Lissak's online apology.

Library patrons during Monday night's city council meeting took shots at Lissak, calling into question her management style and some asking for her resignation.

They also called for more oversight and transparency at the library. They will have an opportunity to make those comments directly to the library's board of trustees tonight.

Lissak did not take the opportunity on Tuesday to respond to comments made against her during Monday night's city council meeting. She said that, between the online apology and the efforts she has made to correct the situation during the past week, she feels it is now prudent for her to stand back and allow library board members to decide how to move forward.

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alumni90 wrote on June 19, 2013 at 9:06 am

What on line apology?  She blamed others and did not take any responsibility, how is blaming others taking responsibility?

Joe American wrote on June 19, 2013 at 10:06 am


It's pretty clear from all accounts that the responsibility is hers, but that the error was likely not caused by her, or at the very minimum by her alone. Any sane & savvy person in her position would do the same - take responsibility only because ultimately it falls on the position of director, even if the error was caused by others.  What do you want her to do, admit to doing something she didn't do?   Heck, Obama's been shirking responsibility since he took office. I hope you've been whining about that, too.

My common sense is tingling. wrote on June 19, 2013 at 11:06 am
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Go figure that you would somehow drag an Obama reference into this....

By her own words, she says that weeding and the weeding process is not her responsibility. She then goes on to contradict her own statements by saying newly-hired, part time shelvers were doing the weeding, when she already said it was professional librarians doing it.

I do agree, any sane and "savvy" person would do what she's doing: throw others under the bus for her shortcomings as a leader, which is ultimately what this is about.

Personally, I don't want a library director that doesn't even look at their own library's collections, among other things.


Joe American wrote on June 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm

- "She then goes on to contradict her own statements by saying newly-hired, part time shelvers were doing the weeding, when she already said it was professional librarians doing it."

Here is what I can find on their website:

"As weeding progresses, the librarians are keeping notes about areas that need to be expanded and updated with new titles."

"Weeded items are not being decided by shelvers. Shelvers are only pulling the items from the shelves. Weeding decisions are made by knowledgeable, skilled, professional librarians who know our collection and our users’ varied interests."

"As they weed, librarians are keeping notes about areas of the collection that needed updating."


Admittedly, I know as much about library policy as you likely know about quantum physics, but the information provided in both the media and on the UFL website is clear enough to establish that the "shelvers" were removing books under the guidance of the librarians. Is it really that hard to make sense of? I didn't see your reference to librarians doing the weeding but would be happy to read it if provided.

And what's the big deal about weeding anyway? Libraries do it all the time. Oh, are you sitting down? I'll let you in on a little secret: museums do it, too. *insert collective gasp here*. Surely no one believes that just because a book is on the shelves today means it will be there tomorrow. My personal thoughts are that by ragging on someone else for their mistakes, it makes them feel better about their (sometimes miserable) lives.

Finally, I'm not sure who you're agreeing with by saying that any savvy person would throw others under the bus, because neither I nor anyone else that I'm aware of said anything remotely similar. Read it, then comment please.

My common sense is tingling. wrote on June 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm
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I don't need troll-lecturing about weeding. I've had almost a decade of library experience from several libraries in LTLS. I'm aware of what it is, its need, and what can happen if it's done improperly.

Her contradictions are in audio. Feel free to listen to it over at Smile Politely's website (where I again invite you to share your opinions with the class).

Life can be pretty miserable for those of us that can't grasp the importance of issues like this. 


Whatdidyoujustsay wrote on June 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm

The Urbana Free Library has an extensive collection of mysteries; surely one of the largest in the area. Many of them are old mystery classics and series that one will not find elsewhere in the library system. Are these purged after ten years?

selguy wrote on June 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm

@Whatdidyoujustsay     Have your read the policy statemet on weeding ??  http://urbanafreelibrary.org/article/2013/06/14/changes-urbana-free-librarythe-faq

Whatdidyoujustsay wrote on June 19, 2013 at 7:06 pm
parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on June 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I think it is absolutely hilarious reading all the reactions for/against this incident.  An experience I had many years ago involved a donation of 8 boxes of late 19th/early 20th century romance novels.  These have very little value; my condition was they be sold during the library sale.  Not one of them made it to the sale.  I met with a Staff person at that time named "Debra" but with a different married last name that I assume is the current Director.  Her rationale for the  disappearance of the books was that a staff member decided they should not be sold at the sale and taken to a private residence to be sold via mail order to a book dealer.  What a scam.

Conversely--the former director was responsible for the destruction of the Jacques house so the library could be expanded; now that new space has been emptied!

Finally- the angry patrons who think the wholesale removal of books that are not being checked out/used by the public is equally hilarious; these books also have no monetary value.

PS.:  Now the Urbana mayor has jumped into the mix! 

Solution:  Put all of them in a paper sack; shake them up; and dump them into the boneyard.  The historical perspective of this library is disgusting; so are the people who think a crime has been committed with the removal of these books.