Trustees defend the selection of members to library board

They see `no problem' with screening process

March 29, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Carroll County Public Library trustees defended last night the way the library board selects its members, regardless of what the Carroll delegation to the Maryland General Assembly thinks.

"The board has one employee. That's the director," said board of trustees member Kathleen Campanella. "We direct her to help in the recruitment of library board members. This was an established tradition for quite some time. I have no problem with the way that's been carried out."

The library board's chairman, Calvin Seitz, was asked by Del. Joseph M. Getty to discuss with trustees Director Linda Mielke's involvement with library board appointments. In a letter to Seitz, dated March 16, Getty asked Seitz and the library board to exclude Mielke from contacting board candidates, screening board candidates and participating in the interview process.

At a recent House Ways and Means Committee hearing on a Carroll delegation bill aimed at altering the pool of potential library trustees, state legislators expressed concern over the seeming conflict of interest posed by Mielke's involvement in appointing people to the library board.

Mielke is appointed by and reports to the library board.

The bill was withdrawn by the delegation last week with the agreement that Seitz would discuss the issues outlined in Getty's letter with the board.

Jill Kartalia, a library board member, said referrals from the director are "precisely" how potential board members are located. The practice is widely used by other boards, not just the Carroll library board.

"This is good stuff," Kartalia said. "There's nothing wrong here."

The bill grew from North Carroll branch patrons' protest of their library's filing children's and adults nonfiction books together. The library board stopped interfiling books in North Carroll. But patrons Alesia Miller and Donna Schott, though pleased with the board's actions, felt they had been treated poorly by the library board. In November, they approached the Carroll delegation about changing the way the board was appointed.

The Carroll delegation's bill, which would have allowed Carroll commissioners to appoint members to the voluntary board from "other sources" without the recommendation of the standing library board, had been opposed by the library board and library director. Throughout the discussion of the bill, Mielke and Seitz maintained that the library board is open to anyone who wants to apply. Miller and Schott never applied.

Last night, board member Peggy Jones questioned why the library had not been made aware of the bill before it was introduced last month. "I'm thoroughly confused and surprised we weren't approached before it was in Annapolis," she said.

"We don't have any answer to that," Seitz replied.

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