Update: Listen to Lori Ingram’s update on the East Cleveland Public Library and her move to Florida.
University Circle resident Lori Ingram attended a board meeting of the East Cleveland Public Library on Dec. 30. This is her editorial on how the meeting devolved into chaos as police were called to contain the protests of audience members, clergy, staff members and some board members:
The meeting was well attended because many people were curious about the agenda and concerned about the possibility of the termination of the director of the library, Ms. Sheba Marcus-Bey.
Marcus-Bey had been the library’s director for six months. When she was hired, there was a moratorium on the purchasing of additional books for the library. But after listening to the complaints from the community, she began purchasing books, balancing the budget and improving the library’s customer service.
The meeting started with the singing of “Life Every Voice and Sing.” The president, William Fambrough, made his report. The third item on the agenda was introduced — the termination of Ms. Marcus-Bey. A motion was made for Ms. Marcus-Bey’s termination. The motion was seconded and a third member also agreed to the motion. Other board members asked why there had never been any verbal or written warnings of infractions by Ms. Marcus-Bey or if they could ask the attending prosecutor if it was even legal to terminate someone with just a motion and a second of that motion. Fambrough and board secretary Devin Branch both said that they were not under any obligation to answer any questions.
They moved on to the next order of business on the agenda, which was to amend the 2013 budget of the library. Branch said money would be moved to various departments. Outcry from other board members again ensued as they were unaware of this new budget. They also wanted to ensure that Marcus-Bey would not be held responsible for that new budget as it was clear that only Fambrough and Branch knew about where that money would go. Even the board treasurer was unaware of the new budget.
The community audience and the clergy and employees and some board members encircled Marcus-Bey and prayed and sang “We Shall Not Be Moved.” They took videos and showed support. They did not want security walking Marcus-Bey out of the library that she had so diligently protected.
Hopefully justice will be served someday on those who see the city’s library as a cash cow instead of a venerated establishment in the fine community of East Cleveland.