'Confusing situation' arises from 2 directors on payroll

'Confusing situation' arises from 2 directors on payroll

URBANA — Two weeks after the Urbana Free Library Board named an acting executive director for the library, the longtime executive director remains on the payroll.

And library officials are not commenting on which person has the authority to make decisions at the library.

Area residents expressed their concerns over the library’s leadership at a special board meeting on Tuesday night.

Earlier this year, the board announced plans to enter into an early separation agreement with longtime Executive Director Debra Lissak following a recent controversy over the “weeding” of books from the adult nonfiction section of the library.

Two weeks ago, the board named Associate Director Kathy Wicks as the new acting executive director.

Since both Wicks and Lissak continue to work at the library, local residents wonder who is in charge.

“I heard from staff there is, in effect, two directors, and it is a confusing situation,” said former library board member Kate McDowell.

When asked whether Wicks or Lissak is the current supervisor at the library, library board President Chris Scherer told The News-Gazette on Tuesday that he had no comment on the issue at this time.

Neither Wicks nor Lissak spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.

Board member Scott Bennett said that while the library board continues to pursue a separation agreement with Lissak, that agreement is still not in place.

Bennett said Lissak remains under contract with the library.

“Because there is a contract, it is something we must honor,” Bennett said.

Urbana resident J.P. Goguen was among 30 people who turned out for the meeting.

“It seems like there was an opportunity for a graceful, honorable exit, and now lawyers are involved,” Goguen said.

After meeting in closed session for an hour and 40 minutes to discuss personnel with the board’s attorney, the board adjourned without taking any action.

The board will hold another special meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 4 in the library’s auditorium.

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wayward wrote on August 28, 2013 at 12:08 am

Had the board offered Lissak paid leave of absence while they worked out the terms of her exit?  If not, it seems like it could have been a Catch-22 for her -- just not coming to work could leave her open to the claim that she'd abandoned the job.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 28, 2013 at 11:08 am

The problem will be solved by simply charging a 1/4 cent tax on books borrowed.  It is the Urbana solution to problems.

787 wrote on August 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Who is on first, What is on second, and I don't know is on third.

And I can remember when the people of Urbana always thought that they were (by far) the smartest people in the county...

Lostinspace wrote on August 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm

One of the weeded books: "Library Management Tips that Work."