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Top library leadership is ousted

Nov 11, 2016 - By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Just hours before her resignation, library system director Joann Collins expressed confidence that her tenure was not nearing an end.

Joann Collins, director of the Fremont County Library System, resigned Thursday amid backlash from employees.

Her sudden ousting came a week after a tense library board meeting in which board members and employees, including Riverton library manager Gloria Brodle, criticized how Collins had handled personnel issues.

The Fremont County Commission has put strict limits on hiring this year amid a growing economic slump, and Collins recently agreed to replace a full-time employee with two part-time employees in order to save on costs.

Collins also planned to focus on hiring tech-savvy people, rather than traditional library aides, which also faced opposition from the library board.

That group declined to approve the hiring plan, and some members stressed the need for more communication.

Collins was the fourth director of the library system in five years, a fact she said "reflects the deep-seeded personnel issues that are wafting around the system."

Because of the county's hiring freeze, library board chairwoman Nancy Wright said she will need to have the county board sign off on the process to replace Collins.

"It won't happen overnight," she said. "None of these things do."

Just hours before her resignation, Collins expressed confidence that her tenure was not nearing an end.

"The board supports me in making decisions," Collins said, while urging that there had been "no firings or retaliation of any kind." She was alluding to Brodle's resignation the day before.

Brodle had worked at the Riverton library for 31 years.

Collins said Brodle's resignation was accompanied by additional turnover, but "nothing that is unorthodox."

Brodle had helped lead a major renovation of the library's community room, and Collins said it was "sad to see her go."

Shari Haskins, the branch's teen lead librarian, said that Brodle "cared about her community, and everything she did reflected the needs of Riverton and the surrounding community."

In 2011, Brodle helped design a diversion program with Fremont County Youth Services centered on literature that Haskins said has been "instrumental" in improving local youth services.

"Without Gloria's passion, we would probably not have that program in this county," Haskins said, adding that Brodle's legacy is solidified by "what an exemplary manager she's been throughout the years."

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