The key word in “York County Public Library” is “public.” Yet the public has not been given an explanation as to why the library director was fired last week after a variety of allegations were made about her in an anonymous email.
Library Director Colleen Pappas first was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 11 after the accusations surfaced. The email was sent to library employees, county officials, The Herald and others.
On Aug. 26, the five members of the county’s nine-member Library Board of Trustees who attended a special meeting voted unanimously to fire Pappas. Board members present at the meeting declined comment on the allegations or why the decision was made to fire the director.
Barbara Boulware, board chairperson, said only that the firing was the result of “our investigation on the accusations that have been made to the board.” She added that the investigation would continue.
That raises the question of why the board did not wait until the investigation had been completed before making the decision to fire Pappas. What was the urgency?
Pappas already was on administrative leave. A thorough and complete investigation of the allegations should have been conducted before she was officially terminated.
And the public, which pays for the county libraries and their operation, is entitled to a complete explanation of the results of that investigation and the grounds for Pappas’ dismissal, especially if the misuse of public money was involved. To date, the county has not provided even basic information about the director’s job, such as her work responsibilities, to whom she reports and what she was paid.
We realize that the library board members probably are not accustomed to being in the public spotlight. Libraries aren’t usually hotbeds of intrigue.
But as a public body, the board has a responsibility to answer to the public regarding its actions. Patrons of the library system need to be reassured that the libraries are well run, that money is appropriately accounted for and that employees are treated fairly.
And if the accusations – many of them quite serious – in the email about Pappas are true, the public needs to know that, too.