RFPL trustees take no action regarding search committee


BELLOWS FALLS -- The Rockingham Free Public Library's trustees decided to defer until the board's regular meeting in April any decision to possibly disband or suspend the committee tasked with aiding the process of replacing terminated Library Director Célina Houlné.

David Gould, who was appointed the new chairman at a meeting last week, said there is some sense among the new board that the search committee should be broken up or put on hiatus until the resolution of the lawsuit Houlné has filed to contest her termination, which occurred in September. Gould also said the trustees will be assigned to the board's various subcommittees at the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, April 8.

The trustees met in executive session with Connie Pell, an attorney with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the board's insurance provider, and Town Attorney Stephen Ankuda at the start of Tuesday's meeting, but neither attorney had comment for the media.

A search committee -- which consisted of Janice Mitchell-Love, the chairwoman until last week, Trustee Pat Fowler and a smorgasbord of community members -- was formed by the trustees but failed to make a recommendation out of the 19 viable candidates considered. Mitchell-Love said the candidates were very qualified but she and others did not feel comfortable throwing those people into the mix, given the political unrest that gripped the board before Town Meeting, when Trustee Deborah Wright was unseated and three new trustees were elected.

Gould said as far as he knows, the search committee is inactive but still intact.

The trustees discussed on Tuesday the wording of form letters to be sent to the candidates to inform them of the board's failure to make a decision. Mitchell-Love said she wanted the wording to be "softened" so it would be both polite and professional. She told her fellow trustees she would like for the former candidates to reapply for the library director job and said the new deadline for applications is Friday, April 11. She said the job advertisement has been posted on the websites of the American Library Association and the Vermont Library Association, as well as with Boston's Simmons College, which has a graduate school of library and information science.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow Domenic on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.


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