The executive director of the Half Hollow Hills Community Library refused Monday to resign, despite a demand from the board of trustees that she do so.
The board announced Helen Crosson’s decision at a special meeting Monday night.
On March 27, the board suspended Crosson and told her to resign by Monday. That move followed complaints read aloud at the March meetiing about Crosson’s management style.
After she refused to resign, however, board president Jacob Goldman said, the board expects to hire a special counsel to work out an agreement with Crosson.
Monday night, about 70 people, many of them current or former library employees, attended the board’s special meeting. The board convened at 6:30 p.m. and immediately went into an executive session, returned and announced Crosson’s refusal to quit.
Before opening the floor for public discussion, Goldman asked the crowd it should avoid “a three-ring circus” and asked that staff members who agreed with the board to not talk to the press.
“We just need to breathe and let the process go” forward, he said, “I beg you.” He also asked that staff members planning to address the meeting who were in favor of the board’s decision against Crosson to simply identify themselves, how long they’d worked at the library and their position.
Many of those who spoke, however, though not all, were critical of Crosson, saying she had repeatedly demeaned or insulted staff.
One speaker said, “There’s something about this library that’s not running right. It’s more like a circus. I believe it’s Helen’s way of running the library.”
Another staffer said that while Crosson, who had served as executive director since 2015, had made “a lot of great decisions about the library’s operations, “I have seen people cry in front of me, hysterical. I also see the exodus (of staff). It’s unreal. Where is everybody going? There’s a reason. Yes, Helen deserves due process, but you also have to hear the staff.”
But some aimed their complaints at the board, saying the board had known for months that the staff’s moral was low. Others said a packet of letters complaining about her were turned over to the board on March 10.
Others defended Crosson, saying her vision had helped create a beautiful new building, which opened last year.
A member of the audience said, “I am here to express my disappointment with the board of directors in direct relation to their decision to attempt to intimidate Helen Crosson into resigning from her position seemingly without due process. I’m glad she’s advocating for herself and seeking representation…I have seen tremendous positive changes since Helen’s employment in 2015.”
One read a point-by-point rebuttal to some of the complaints made against her.
There were a handful of testy exchanges in the crowd, as some spoke on her behalf, crediting her with various programs and access.
Some praised the use of the building as more of a community center rather than a library only, though others said that had led to problems with bad behavior on the part of teens who congregate there.
When one member of the audience asked whether those criticizing Crosson would face retaliation, another snapped, “No! Where do you think you live?”
Still others cited the library’s budget vote on April 11, concerned the the division might lead to the rejection of the budget.