Library system board of trustees replacing nearly half its voting members

January 02, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Staff Writer

The Harford County board of library trustees will take on a new look later this month when three of its seven voting members are replaced.

In a special session last week, the board voted to recommend to County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann the appointment of three new members and the reappointment of trustee David Robinson to a second five-year term.

The terms of board members Marlene Magness of Bel Air, Dennis Pelletier of Havre de Grace and Mr. Robinson of Whiteford expired Friday. All three were eligible for another term, but Ms. Magness and Mr. Pelletier did not seek reappointment, though they agreed to serve until the new members are confirmed.

In addition, Bruce G. Berkey, whose term does not expire until 1996, announced in November that he would resign by last Friday.

On Monday, the board unanimously voted to recommend that the three departing trustees be replaced by Virginia M. O'Rourke, Louis Balducci and R. Paul Ryan, all of Bel Air.

The vote was also unanimous that Mr. Robinson, who began his library service in 1992 as a mid-term replacement for trustee Michael S. Birch, be appointed to a second term.

Board Chairwoman Mary Pat Massarelli said it was unusual for TC three trustees to be leaving at the same time. She noted that the changes will leave the board with only two trustees with at least two years' experience.

"Yes, it definitely will give us a new look," she said. "But I also think the people we nominated are excellent candidates.

"We've had good feelings about them from the very beginning. They are all well-known by the libraries and the people in the community, which is a good sign."

The volunteer trustees are responsible for setting the overall policy for Harford County's nine library branches. They meet in committees and as a group monthly and work closely with the library's paid director, Philip A. Place.

They are appointed by the county executive, who traditionally has accepted the recommendations of the board. They must be confirmed by the County Council.

All three of the recommended members are longtime Harford County residents.

Ms. O'Rourke, a former director of Harford County community services, is the owner of a direct-marketing firm.

Mr. Ryan, deputy administrator of the Defense Department's scientific and technical information center, has been an information specialist for 20 years.

Mr. Balducci is a retired electrical engineer who says he will bring his technical and managerial experience to the board.

County spokesman George Harrison said Mrs. Rehrmann is expected to send the nominations to the council later this week for approval this month.

Trustees may serve two terms of five years each. In addition to the seven voting trustees, a member of the Harford County Council also sits on the board in an ex-officio role.

In July, the board will grow to include a student representative, a move approved by the County Council in August. The high school senior will participate in regular board meetings but will not have a vote.

When the call for trustee applicants went out in August, Mrs. Massarelli said, there was not a widespread response. She said 10 applicants were from Bel Air, but very few from Havre de Grace or the north county area. The board prefers to represent a cross-section of the county geographically.

She said that the last two years have been difficult for the board, both financially and politically, making the unpaid position one that demands time and patience.

The county cutbacks forced the library to reduce its staff and hours of operation and to severely limit spending on new books and materials. Circulation dropped in 1993 for the first time in five years.

In addition, the trustees met opposition on several fronts, including their effort to build a new library for the greater Bel Air area, which was opposed by residents who wanted the library to remain downtown.

County Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson led an attack on the board's authority after it recommended closing the Highland branch as a cost-cutting measure.

A compromise was reached to keep the tiny library open on a limited schedule staffed by volunteers.

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