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Library picks interim chief

LAWRENCEVILLE - Three days after firing Gwinnett's library director, members of the library board chose a temporary

replacement.

An executive committee tapped Nancy Stanbery-Kellam, a business officer who has been with the library system since 1992, to serve as interim director.

At the same time, an attorney for Jo Ann Pinder, who was fired without cause on Monday, has sent a letter demanding an apology, a pay raise as part of the severance package and payment for Pinder's accrued vacation and sick leave.

According to board secretary Margaret Tiller, the executive committee considered Stanbery-Kellam and Elleene Morgan, who had been chosen Monday to sign checks and engage in other financial decisions for the library until an interim director was named.

Morgan is planning to retire in December, and Tiller said the board wasn't sure if a permanent director would be hired by then.

Stanbery-Kellam was chosen unanimously, she said.

"She's very well qualified. We all feel she'll do a good job," Tiller said.

Stanbery-Kellan did not return phone calls seeking comment and information about her salary was not available.

Brett Taylor, the only board member who voted against firing Pinder, said he was able to listen in during the executive session to choose the interim director even though he is not a member of the executive committee. Dale Todd, the board treasurer who also isn't on the committee, was there as well.

"I'm not happy with what has happened. But at this point we've got to go forward and make sure we minimize the damage," Taylor said.

Pinder's attorney, Judith O'Brien, said a decision on a lawsuit could come in the next several days.

She sent a letter to library board members saying they ignored state laws, the library board's bylaws and Pinder's contract when they fired Pinder, "executing a game plan that obviously had been scripted ahead of time by four of its members and their behind-the-scenes legal advisor."

While the letter did not give a dollar amount for the 73.8 hours of annual leave and 760 hours of sick leave Pinder has accumulated, O'Brien wrote, "these are modest requests compared to the egregious behavior of the library board."

On Wednesday, she submitted an open records request to the Gwinnett County Public Library Board of Trustees seeking dozens of documents, including all correspondence between library board members and members of the county law department.

Board members have remained mum on the decision to fire Pinder, only reiterating that the decision was made "without cause," which allows her to collect a year's salary.