York County Library director fired by board amid investigation into management

York County Library
York County Library

The York County Library director was fired Friday morning in a unanimous vote of the library’s Board of Trustees, amid an unfinished investigation into her management that was sparked by an anonymous email.

Five of the nine board members attended Friday’s meeting at the library’s system’s Rock Hill branch. where the vote took place with no discussion. The director, Colleen Pappas, who served as chief of the county library system for nine years, has been on administrative leave since an Aug. 11 library board meeting, pending an investigation into allegations listed in the email.

Barbara Boulware, chair of the library trustees, said after Friday’s meeting that the decision was the result of “our investigation on the accusations that have been made to the board.”

Boulware declined to comment further on those allegations, or to say whether she believes any of the accusations were found to be accurate.

Pappas did not attend the meeting and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Boulware said the investigation will continue into allegations against Pappas. Numerous allegations in the Aug. 7 email include threatening employees, illegal hiring, discrimination and a “hostile work environment.”

Boulware also said the board will move forward with plans to have an audit of library finances. The board has discussed getting cost estimates for an auditor.

The five board members who attended Friday’s meeting, and who voted to terminate Pappas, are Boulware, Nik Bramblett, Sally Goodson, Suzanne Thompson and Mary Windell.

“I really hate that it came to this,” Bramblett said after the meeting. He declined further comment.

After the board voted to fire Pappas, six library employees and residents who attended the meeting applauded the trustees.

One person stood and asked the board if Pappas would receive any severance pay.

“We have not discussed that at this point,” Boulware said.

Information about Pappas’ annual salary and the conditions of her dismissal were requested by The Herald but were not immediately available Friday morning.

The vote to fire Pappas came at a special called meeting that followed another special meeting Wednesday night. During the Wednesday night meeting, the board met for more than an hour to discuss the allegations in a closed session, which is permitted under state law for personnel and legal matters. In an open session that followed Wednesday’s closed meeting, the board took no action.

Jason Hyatt has been named interim director of the county library system. The board took no action and had no discussion of hiring a permanent library director.

The next scheduled library board meeting is 5 p.m. Sept. 8 at the library system’s Lake Wylie branch.

The board also discussed having its annual Food for Fines campaign in mid-September instead of during the holidays, at the request of several community partners.

The anonymous email regarding Pappas, sent to library employees, county officials, The Herald and others, listed 14 allegations against Pappas, including that she created jobs for her friends; refused to give employees raises in a timely manner and threatened disciplinary action against those who inquired about raises; employed an unqualified bookkeeper who made “numerous errors related to benefits and retirement programs”; and that she chose rare or out-of-print items from the library collection and made them available for her alone to purchase at Friends of the Library book sales.

Other allegations included that Pappas hired staff members to serve as library security without a required license; that children of a deputy director were hired without an application or interview; that a “serious workplace accident” at the Rock Hill branch involved a staff member and one of the deputy director’s sons; that there was no racial diversity among county librarians; and that Pappas developed policies that disenfranchised minorities.

Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077