Friends of Rochambeau Letter in Response to the Dismissal of Tom O’Donnell

2013 March 8
by admin

Dear Friends,

By now, many of you know that Tom O’Donnell, manager of the Rochambeau, Fox Point, and Smith Hill libraries, was fired on February 15, 2013. Laura Marlane, executive director of the Providence Community Library (PCL), took this action unilaterally without consulting the Rochambeau Library community. A review committee will evaluate Tom’s case on Monday, March 11 and will, we assume, either affirm or reverse Ms. Marlane’s decision.

In advance of that hearing, we, the Board of the Friends of Rochambeau, offer the following response.

First, Tom deserves a fair and impartial hearing. No PCL board member who is known to have taken sides in this dispute should be part of the review committee. To do so would further sully a process that in our view already lacks transparency.

Second, because of the extremely short notice and the division of labor at the library, our staff members scrambled to cope with short-staffing and to obtain basic information to keep the library’s services running. Though we think that the abruptness with which Tom was fired deserves special scrutiny, we also recommend that PCL policy be adjusted to prevent such disruptions in library function and staff morale in the future.

Third, absent compelling proof of serious misconduct, we believe that Tom should be reinstated. Any lesser infraction should be weighed thoughtfully against Tom’s enormous value to the community. Under his leadership, our programming has expanded (e.g., concerts, lectures, discussion groups, films, children’s programs), our community partnerships have flourished (e.g., Hope Street Merchants Association, Summit Neighborhood Association), and the bonds of friendship among the library’s board, staff, and patrons have grown ever stronger.

All of this is in line with our mission:  to support the Rochambeau library – its facility, programs, services, and resources – and, above all, the many people it serves.

Sincerely,

The Board of the Friends of Rochambeau

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