All fired up UC residents protest outside City Hall
by Christine Nardone Reporter staff writer
Jul 11, 2002 | 1153 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A handful of Union City residents who frequented the 15th Street Library branch stood before City Hall on July 1 holding signs that read, "Brian Stack, give us our librarian back!" and "Our librarian sacked, is our library next?"

These protestors, angered by the letting go of their branch librarian Nolan Ledet, were trying to get the mayor's attention to possibly have Ledet rehired.

"As mayor, he carries some influence," said Judy Stone, one of the protestors.

Ledet was one of the two professional librarians on staff at the library; the other being Director William Breedlove. The library is a branch of the main library on 43rd St. According to state standards, each library should have five professional librarians on staff.

On June 24, the Library Board of Trustees held a special meeting, which broke into a closed session to discuss personnel matters. At this meeting, the decision was made not to rehire Ledet.

Ledet, who had been with the library more than two years, said that he received his letter of termination on June 30 and was also notified in the letter that he was not receiving a letter of recommendation.

Library Board attorney Matteo Perez would not comment on the reason behind the decision. No reason was given to Ledet, Ledet said. Ledet said he'd heard different rumors about the decision, and he speculated that it had to do with differences of opinion over the cultural events he's run in the library.

Union City Mayor Brian Stack said that the library board works separately from his office, but that he would listen to both sides of the story to see if he should get involved.

Breedlove said that the board is already planning to hire another librarian to work out of the 15th Street branch. "It may take a couple of months," said Breedlove. "But a new librarian will be hired for that branch."

Being ignored

The protestors, including Ledet, believe that the 15th Street library branch has been continuously ignored by Breedlove, who works out of the 43rd Street branch.

"He has made it clear during his tenure that our branch [15th Street branch] does not matter to him," said Stone.

According to Stone, prior to Ledet's involvement with the library, no books had been ordered and the workers were not helpful at all.

"In two years, Nolan Ledet has been able to turn that library around," said Judy Stone, one of the users of the 15th Street library.

"It didn't function as a library before he came," said Stone. "Now it does."

"I would come before to the library and the workers would just drink coffee and talk on the phone," agreed Anthony Squire, the vice president of the Friends of the Union City Library group. "All of that has changed."

Ledet credits himself with building the library's new Spanish collection as well as the new books ordered for both libraries.

"The 15th Street branch was increasingly ignored," said Ledet, saying that when the branch lost one of its part-time workers, Breedlove refused to hire another worker. "We are already down to bare bones staff."

However, Breedlove said that he has given more attention to the 15th Street branch than he has the 43rd Street branch.

"I don't think that the 15th Street branch is being ignored at all," said Breedlove. "In many ways I have put more effort into the 15th Street branch than in the 43rd Street branch."

Breedlove said that the 15th Street branch has been fully computerized, the inside of the building has been painted, and the outside of the building was landscaped.

Fate of branch

With the plans for a new community library in the downtown area as well as the letting go of the branch librarian, the residents who use the 15th Street library are afraid that their library may be closed.

A new community library is planned for a 2004 opening as part of the city's new middle school located on 19th and West streets in the Monastery site.

"That library is over one century old," said Squire, who doesn't want to see the library closed or used in any other way. Both of the Union City libraries were built with an Andrew Carnegie grant to be used as a library. "The building was specifically built to be a library," Squire said.

However, according to library board of trustee members, there are no plans to close the 15th Street library.
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