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Library to name director

LAWRENCEVILLE - Five months after library board members fired Jo Ann Pinder without cause, they are expected to name Nancy Stanbery-Kellam as her permanent replacement.

While a nationwide search brought forth seven applications, the board was scheduled to vote Monday to give the position to Stanbery-Kellam, who worked as a business officer before being named the interim director a week after Pinder's departure.

The vote has been delayed because of an attorney's interpretation of the Georgia Open Meetings Law, Chairman Lloyd Breck said. He said the delay was caused by the Gwinnett Daily Post's Freedom of Information Act request to review the search documents.

Instead, he said the board will have a special meeting a week later to vote on the matter.

He said an attorney advised them not to discuss the matter until 14 days after the request was made.

Information obtained through the state's sunshine laws revealed the library board only considered Stanbery-Kellam and Alan Harkness, the system's staff development manager who is president-elect of the Snellville Rotary Club.

But the Piedmont Regional Library has announced that Harkness will lead the Winder-based system.

According to board member Brett Taylor, four of the applicants did not meet a requirement that the new director have a master's degree and three applications were forwarded to the board.

Chairman Lloyd Breck then made the choice to not interview a third candidate, who is an assistant director of the Jacksonville, Fla., library system.

"After hearing from the board member, there wasn't support to bring in someone else for an interview," Breck said.

He said he is "very satisfied" with Stanbery-Kellam's work.

"I'm very pleased with Nan's performance," he said. "She's essentially been interviewing since she went to work the first day."

Taylor, who was the sole board member who supported Pinder in June, wanted to interview candidates but only Breck and the vice-chairman did so. They were expected to report on the interviews during a closed session Monday until the decision to wait.

Taylor said he is objecting to the process.

"She's somewhat qualified, but I don't know that she's the best qualified. She may be," he said. "The shame of it is that we're a large library system. We're in the top 1 percent in the nation. We should be able to draw good applicants. ... Nobody wants to apply for the position with a board like ours."

Stanbery-Kellam, who did not return phone calls left Thursday and Friday, has held several positions with the library in the past, including serving as branch manager during the opening of the Collins Hill branch.

A search of her personnel files revealed she did not receive a raise in 2004, when she received a negative review from her supervisor, Cindy Murphy.

The file includes a memo from Stanbery-Kellam detailing the sour relationship between the two.

Just four days after Pinder's firing, Murphy, who as the media contact for the system had become the face of the public library, was suspended on allegations from a former library employee that Murphy was aggressive in barring her from the room where the board met.

Records of the suspension were expunged from Murphy's personnel file when she resigned and agreed not to sue, according to correspondence with an attorney left in the file.

Murphy, who was on medical leave until the end of September, said she was asked to bar people from the room once it reached capacity. Because of reports about Pinder's impending firing, the meeting room was crammed, dozens more people were left in the hall, and police officers controlled the crowd.

Murphy denies any wrongdoing, and Taylor said he has witness statements from friends in the hall that did not see any altercation.

"There were a lot of people that were stopped. It was a fire marshal issue and a safety issue," Murphy said. "I'm glad it's behind me. I really believe I did a good job for the library and I believe I did a good job for the citizens. I wish both sides the best."

Stanbery-Kellam declined to comment.

Taylor said that board members had said in executive sessions that Murphy should be fired, but Breck denied that.

"The board hires the executive director, and the executive director hires the staff. The board would not fire an individual," Breck said. "There was never any discussion that I recall of the board firing anyone like you are describing."

Taylor said others in the administration, including Harkness, have left since June, although he said he wasn't sure if the changes had anything to do with board's decisions.