It’s hard to imagine how Boulder Library Director Valerie Maginnis, who only came on the job in June, could further foul up the first impression she gave to the community when she fired beloved storytime volunteer Judy Volc for no good reason. But it seems she’s determined to try, by steadfastly defending her decision, even in the face of vocal public outcry and a nonbinding resolution by the Boulder Library Commission asking her to reconsider.
The flap began last month when out of the blue Maginnis sacked Volc, who has volunteered to read to children for 50 years. The public reaction was swift and brutal and the hate-mail floodgates were opened. “Some of the email was very violent and profane,” she told the Daily Camera at the time, clearly caught unawares by how seriously Boulderites take their kids’ storytime.
But the truth is that she had no real reason to fire Volc other than a vague need to create a “uniform” storytime program at all library branches, even though the only inconsistency seems to be Volc was a volunteer and not a paid staff member, as readers are at other branches. At the Boulder Library Commission meeting Wednesday night, she finally admitted after repeated questioning that she’s never received any complaints about Volc.
According to the Daily Camera, Maginnis got an earful at the meeting. Commissioners weren’t told about the decision in advance and said they felt “blindsided.” They asked Maginnis to see the error of her ways and to address the ill will she’s created in the community by reversing course.
“When the community feels very strongly, it’s our responsibility to hear that, and we’ve heard it loud and clear,” said commissioner Anne Sawyer. “But I don’t see any movement on your part.”
Maginnis seems to be sticking to her guns, bending only so far as to offer Volc a role as “library greeter,” which Volc isn’t interested in.
“If I wanted to drive four or five miles to meet and greet, I would do it at Walmart and get paid,” Volc told the paper.
It’s hard to argue with that. The community doesn’t need a “library greeter”—it needs its longtime story reader back. It also needs a library director who responds to the community and who can admit when she’s wrong.