Change in staffer's status cancels North Versailles library's programs
By Eric Slagle
Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 4:41 a.m.
A staffing change at North Versailles Public Library has resulted in the cancellation of its programs until further notice.
Library director Michael Kowalcheck said the library board of trustees changed staff member Karen Schmidt-Ramsey's employee status and reduced her schedule by five hours per week, thus forcing the eliminations.
Schmidt-Ramsey, who had been the children's librarian for eight years, is now a library clerk.
Kowalcheck said that means no one is available to plan and host programs and activities, including the summer reading program for children and activities for teens.
“I argued against it but it didn't work,” Kowalcheck said.
He said Schmidt-Ramsey, who is listed as assistant director on the library's website, has been instrumental in fundraising as well. He said clerks are not authorized to administer and run programs.
Kowalcheck said the library also must cancel its adult book club, knitting and scrapbooking, senior computer classes, and fundraising and outreach activities.
Schmidt-Ramsey could not be reached for comment.
Trustees president Mary Ann Fetsick could not discuss the board's decision because it was a personnel issue, but she said it was related to a question about job description. She said the board asked for but did not receive information about Schmidt-Ramsey's duties.
Fetsick said directors did not consider Schmidt-Ramsey a full-time employee. Kowalcheck said he did, even though she did not receive benefits.
Kowalcheck said Schmidt-Ramsey is not an accredited librarian but, from his point of view, serves in the capacity of one. He noted that she regularly has taken continuing library education classes required of full-time librarians and had library experience while serving in the military.
He said Schmidt-Ramsey's annual earnings before the demotion were around $20,000 and were not placing undue burden on the operating budget, which is around $105,000 per year.
Kowalcheck said the library recently received a $34,000 contribution from the township.
Township board of commissioners president George Thompson said he is trying to arrange a meeting with library board members and Kowalcheck to identify and resolve issues.
Resident and summer reading program volunteer Kristen Keleschenyi said she was notified by phone that this week's reading session had been canceled, an announcement she said left her “kind of in limbo.”
“We're just concerned the kids won't be able to finish the program,” Keleschenyi said.
Keleschenyi said the nine-week program attracted about 100 readers, including two of her three children, from as far away as Monroeville.
The program was to end on Aug. 6 but Keleschenyi said, “I think there are a lot of things that are up in the air right now.”
Kowalcheck said the staffing change will not result in any change in hours of operation. He said he hopes programs will resume by fall.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 40 kids to go to camp for free
- Grand welcomes ‘Cinderella’
- Aerobic fundraiser challenges attendees
- Duquesne crash leaves 1 injured
- McKeesport-area officials on lookout for landslides
- New McKeesport committee to focus on community issues
- Clairton Seuss Cafe just what doctor ordered for love of reading
- McKeesport mayor answers critics of emergency timing
- McKeesport lifts state of emergency
- AIU forum bashes governor’s education budget
- Lincoln Way work finally set to begin