Director search nears end: Library supporters confident resignations won’t hurt tax election

Published 12:10 am Saturday, March 26, 2016

LAPLACE — The search is on for a new St. John the Baptist Parish library director. The St. John Library system has been without a director since Natalie Beam resigned in December after taking the position in August. Beam replaced Roberta Zeno August, who reigned after being at the post for a year.

Library Board president Vergie Johnson said the library system began accepting applications mid-February.

“We do have applications and we are currently in the process of going through those applications now,” Johnson said. “We don’t have a director now, but we just ended the application process maybe two or three weeks ago. This is not a process you can rush through.”

There are seven applicants vying for the position, and Johnson said a final decision should be made by early April.

A hiring committee has been established to go over the applications.

Former Library system employee Joan Paisant said it is imperative a new director is appointed soon.

“The library system is like a ship without a captain,” she said. “It’s just floating along, has no destination, it has no goal. They need the leadership, and I think that’s in any institution. Without a director, I feel like everything is on hold. I feel like they aren’t progressing forward.”

Paisant, who worked in the library system from 1991 until her retirement in 2010, said she loved her time working at different branches and is saddened by the way things have changed internally.

“The fact that they have had two directors that resigned I think ‘what happened?’” Paisant said. “Between what I’ve heard, I have no proof of anything, but there is just a lot of political and internal dissension, and it’s just a shame. I spoke to both of the former directors, personally, right around the time they were leaving or they left. One told me that she just didn’t like the political atmosphere and the other one said she was thrown under the bus.”

Knowing the director has many different responsibilities and must deal with different staff and board members, officials are looking at changes to make things  easier.

“We have an introductory period of six months,” Johnson said. “We will probably be changing that. Six months is a short time. We are looking to making it a year.”

Johnson believes while the system is currently looking for a new director the

Even though the Library System doesn’t have a director, assistant director Tammy Houston doesn’t feel that will deter voters from voting in favor of the library tax renewal on April 9.

“A director is very important, don’t get me wrong, but there has been no interruption in our services, our bills are being paid, our lights are on and our computers are working,” she said. “We’ve had some employees, some more than others, that have stepped up and really assumed extra responsibilities and pitched in. This has brought us together as a staff, administration wise, because we are just determined that there will be no interruption in services.”

Paisant is in favor of renewing the tax and she hopes everyone else is as well.

“I think a library is very important,” she said. “I think it’s a definite asset to this community. Libraries have changed so much, and now they aren’t just books. There are computers and all kinds of different avenues of information that you can receive.”

The 9.94 mills tax renewal, if voted on April 9, will be in place for 10 years and begin in 2018. The tax generates $4,484,200 a year and is earmarked for maintaining, constructing and operating the public libraries in St. John.