North Versailles trustees announce return to normal library hours
North Versailles Public Library will return to its regular 45-hour-per-week schedule in October, trustees said at a board meeting on Wednesday.
The library has been open only 32 hours a week since July, when trustees fired director Michael Kowalcheck and his assistant Karen Schmidt-Ramsey over a dispute surrounding program offerings.
The terminations resulted in a backlash from the community and, to a lesser extent, from commissioners, some of whom indicated they hadn't properly been kept abreast of library affairs.
Trustees said Wednesday that they will provide commissioners with agendas and minutes from the board's monthly meetings, and that they will update board of commissioners president George Thompson on library business prior to township meetings.
Trustee Susan Wagner submitted her resignation from the board. She did not attend the meeting.
Trustees said Wagner, who is on the zoning board, stepped down because commissioner Greg Evashavik advised her that she could not sit on two boards.
At a meeting of commissioners in July, after a number of residents angered by the firings complained about how trustees are appointed, Evashavik said he would review the ordinance regarding the establishment of the trustee board.
Trustee Louise Beswick said the board will seek applicants to fill Wagner's seat on the seven-member panel.
She said an effort will be made to appoint someone from Crestas, the township's Ward 7, which is not represented on the library board.
She said the board “will seek outside candidates if no applications are received” from Ward 7.
Library officials said they have received 10 applications for director and plan to interview candidates this week.
“We have some really good candidates,” said Beswick, noting that all the applicants hold master's degrees in library science.
Trustees said their attorney Marguerita Young-Jones is rewriting library bylaws in accordance with suggestions from the Allegheny County Library Association, and that an updated version should be completed by November.
Library officials are continuing to look at the possibility of entering into a service agreement with another library to manage the North Versailles reading center.
Kowalcheck and Schmidt-Ramsey were fired by trustees on July 24, the same day a story appeared in The Daily News about the board of trustees demoting Schmidt-Ramsey from children's librarian to clerk. Kowalcheck was quoted as saying he would have to cancel programs because of that.
Young-Jones said last month the trustees had to take that action because the employees were excluding them from knowing how the library budget was being spent.
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.