Library systems director resigns 'unexpectedly'

May 17, 2013 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

County officials say they were surprised by the announcement.

Fremont County Library System director Matt Nojonen is resigning effective May 31. His resignation via e-mail May 9 surprised county officials and left them wondering why he is leaving.

"I think I can say the commission was surprised," Fremont County Commissioner Stephanie Kessler said.

Library board chairman Kevin Tippets agreed that the resignation was unexpected.

"That's a fairly short time to be in that position," he said.

Nojonen started as library director on March 14, 2011, after Jill Rourke resigned from that position in August 2010. The commission had demanded Rourke's resignation.

Tippets and Kessler, who serves as liaison to the library board, both said Nojonen has not told them why he is resigning.

His e-mail offered little insight, either.

Nojonen simply wrote, "I am resigning my position as Director effective 5/31/13."

He went on to say the library board has not appointed anyone to fill his role, and he asked people to contact the library system business manager about business needs after the end of May.

Performance issues do not seem to be an factor in Nojonen's resignation.

"I've been very pleased with the work (he) has done and am sorry to see him leave us," Tippets said.

The library board chairman had no comment when asked whether recent public outcry regarding Nojonen's termination of former Dubois Branch Library director Paula Sabatka played a role in the director's resignation.

Library board member Barabara Gose said the same issues that led to Rourke's resignation did not play a role in Nojonen's departure. Gose did not know whether Sabatka's termination was a part of Nojonen's resignation, but she said the aftermath of the firing decision has been difficult.

"It was a very painful period for the staff and the board and continues to be, there's no doubt," she said.

Gose also was happy with Nojonen's work.

"He has been very successful," she said. "We were very grateful for his work on the Carnegie (Library) reconstruction."

Gose expects the board to accept Nojonen's resignation at its next meeting June 5. She called the procedure a formality.

Tippets said the board will put together a job description and advertise the open position. He said the hiring process will be similar to the one used to find Nojonen.

During the search after Rourke's resignation, a small committee reviewed applications and recommended top candidates to the board, Tippets said. Two finalists, including Nojonen, interviewed in person before the board, and the group made a decision in January 2011.

Tippets said the process could take two to eight months.

Nojonen did not return calls for comment by press time Friday.

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