To the editor: Concerning resignation of Chester library director

With shock and disbelief, I read of the resignation of Whiting Library Director Deirdre Doran, who has been a remarkably effective director since taking over in 2019 from Whiting’s long-time director, Sharon Tanzer.

Then Whiting Library board chair Kathy Pellett a explains the request for additional funds in 2019.

I served as a trustee of Whiting Library for 10 years, six of those years as chair of the trustees. It was a wonderfully fulfilling and rewarding experience to serve in that capacity. But recent events have troubled me. This letter is not about whether the program in question is appropriate or not; it is about the process by which events unfolded so unpleasantly and to a disastrous outcome.

Troubling me most is the apparent interference of the current trustees and chair into micro-managing programming, which is contrary to library policy. Programs are the responsibility of the staff – not the trustees. During my tenure as chair, we held or attended annual trustee retreats coordinated by the Vermont Libraries Association, so that all trustees, especially new ones, could learn what their roles and responsibilities were.

Each new trustee receives a very detailed manual (published by the Vermont Library Association), and includes a section on this topic. It states very clearly, “Staff is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the library, including programs and material acquisition.”

When I left the board, I urged the new chair to continue to hold trustee retreats to apprise all trustees of their duties and responsibilities. My advice went unheeded. If the current board had either read and even informally discussed the manual, this problem might not have developed and we might have kept our current library director. To the extent that Whiting Library is losing an outstanding director is a great loss for the library and the towns of Chester and Andover.

In 2019, when we began our search for a new director, we had no qualified candidates apply in our initial search. Then Ms.  Doran applied. We could scarcely believe our good fortune, as she was not only well-qualified but lived locally and her knowledge of the community and library patrons would be an asset. We hired her on the spot, with every member of the search committee voting enthusiastically to offer her the position.

She has brought the library to a new level of excellence and her loss will long be felt. It saddens me to think that this situation was not handled more thoughtfully and professionally. Board leadership should have heeded the established separation of responsibilities and consulted with staff before acting precipitously.

Perhaps there is a way for the town of Chester Select Board to step in and ask Ms. Doran to rescind her resignation for the good of everyone. And for the trustees to finally hold a Trustee Retreat in coordination with the Vermont Library Association and learn exactly what it means to be a Trustee.


Kathy Pellett

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  1. Wendy Schwarz says:

    Dear Kathy,
    Thank you very much for your honest letter of insight and footing. Your experience of being on the former board for the library holds valuable insights for direction at this time. I plan to attend the 6/14 meeting at 8:30 as first understood by the public. I hope time is made for public attendance, civility, openness, and that clarifications of the responsibilities of both board and librarian are clearly understood by all. Most importantly amends as in sincere apologies need to be made to Deidra as soon as possible. This last action may influence if she feels she can safely choose to rescind her resignation and can feel free to return to the work she and her amazing team excel in.
    Wendy Schwarz

  2. Penny Benelli says:

    Well said, Kathy.

  3. Don Dalton says:

    We should all take a bit of a chill pill. Mr. Nied wasn’t wrong, he simply had an opinion and some concerns, which the people of Chester trounced on. Ms. Doran isn’t wrong, either.

    I propose that we actually move forward with the Drag Queen Story Hour and call Ms. Doran back, with one proviso: that we give equal time to the “Climate Deniers Story Hour.” In fairness, we also apologize to Mr. Nied and ask him to take up his former positions again, if he has the stomach for this after seeing the true colors of the people of our community. I’m perfectly serious. But one further condition: no hate allowed. If you expect the Drag Queens to be treated with respect, then I expect no less respect to those who hold scientific views that differ from the consensus– and I emphasize the word, “science.” I know, beyond any doubt, that we can indeed get someone to speak up against the consensus view on climate.

    Are we game? Are we civil? Or are we, really, just nasty haters ready to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with us, despite that we put up signs that say “hate has no home here”?

    Or is this about: we can have any sexual preferences we want to and we applaud the differences, but if we think differently, that’s taboo? Because of course there’s “right thinking” and “wrong thinking” and the whole point is to get our minds right, according to what some group has decided is “right”?

    Sorry, ain’t buying it. You treat everyone with civility and respect, and if I’m not mistaken that’s exactly what they teach at CAES, although some adults in the room seem not to have learned this lesson.

  4. Arlene Mutschler says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful article. Has anyone reached out to her to see what it would take to mean this rift?

  5. Elaine Wrubel says:

    The board needs to be re-educated, own up to their errors, apologize for their misguided actions and get down on their collective knees and beg Deidre to stay.

  6. Wendy hayward says:

    Thank you Kathy. A well written heartfelt letter. Thank you!

  7. Susan Bailey says:

    Thank you for your letter. Hopefully it’s not too late for Deirdre to return.

  8. Emily Burkland says:

    Thank you Kathy for this voice of reason and experience. It has been a trying time for those who want to keep Deidre on as library director and your letter perfectly articulated what our issues have been. I hope the board listens to you more than they listened to anyone at the meeting last week. I hope people show up at the next library board meeting which was scheduled for 6/14 at 8:30 but I don’t see it there now – is that typical? Is it also typical for board Chairs to schedule meetings at the last minute and hold lengthy executive sessions? I am so confused by the actions of this board. Hoping for some peaceful resolution.