Sacramento Library Board Weighs Response to Scathing Grand Jury Report

Sacramento Library Board Weighs Scathing Grand Jury Report

The Sacramento Public Library governing board held a special meeting May 22 to begin formulating a response to a grand jury report that charges both the board and Director Anne Marie Gold with mismanagement and suggests that Gold be replaced. Stemming largely from an ongoing investigation into overpayments made to a subcontracting firm co-owned by a library staffer and his wife, the grand jury investigation also looked at larger issues of how the board and the library administration handle supervision, communication, and accountability.

Issued May 14 and titled “The Business of Books,” the 28-page report urges the board to “seriously consider removing” Gold for, among other things, “fiscal mismanagement, failure to adequately track and implement financial controls or other management initiatives, lax oversight of subordinates, [and] chronic, long-standing, unresolved morale problems.” The grand jury also recommended replacing Human Resources Director Arevik Bagdassari for “lack of leadership in establishing and implementing personnel policies” and for “repeated abuses of travel and credit card policies.”

The grand jury report also contains abundant criticism of the governing board and made a number of recommendations, among them that the director’s position be filled with “a person with proven business expertise and credentials to operate a business enterprise the size of the Sacramento Public Library system . . . similar to the way in which hospitals used to be headed by a physician and are now led by a professional in Hospital Administration.” The board was given 90 days to respond.

Gold told American Libraries that the board had appointed five members to an ad hoc committee to draft a response to the grand jury report for review at the board’s July 24 meeting. “They also appointed a special counsel to provide legal advice to the board about their response,” she said, indicating that she would not resign.

Posted on May 24, 2008. Discuss.