Archived Story

Library director withdraws resignation

Published 8:28am Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dowagiac Daily News

Dowagiac District Library Director Mike Shamalla abruptly withdrew his resignation at Tuesday night's board meeting. (The Daily News/File)
Dowagiac District Library Director Mike Shamalla abruptly withdrew his resignation at Tuesday night's board meeting. (The Daily News/File)

The seven-member DDL board chaired by retired schools superintendent Ron Jones did, however, accept with thanks for her service Tuesday’s resignation of Mary Cochrane as community services coordinator effective Aug. 21.

She told the Daily News last week that she already planned to leave before Shamalla tendered his resignation.

There was little discussion of Shamalla’s change of heart after giving his required month’s notice to leave at the end of August.

The Pittsburgh native moved here from Battle Creek to become director March 3, 2008, succeeding Evelyn Holzwarth.

City employee Sue Watson served as interim director after Holzwarth departed for Hastings in the fall of 2007.

The DDL board conducted a special 9 a.m. meeting Aug. 7 which lasted 50 minutes to discuss hiring a new director.

Points discussed were job requirements, salary range, closing date for applications and a starting date, according to minutes compiled by former public library director Jackie Baker as temporary secretary.

A director must have a master’s of library science (MLS) degree from an American Library Association (ALA)-accredited school to receive state aid.

Aug. 7 the board hoped to have applications in by Sept. 15 for an Oct. 1 start date for Shamalla’s successor.

Besides Jones and Baker, who is now a media professional for Edwardsburg schools, the DDL board consists of Jackie Goodman of Silver Creek Township, Eau Claire librarian Ann Greene, Judy Lawrence of Dowagiac, Jerry Irwin of Wayne Township and Beverly Nemeth of Keeler Township.

It meets the second Tuesday at the DDL, so the next meeting, to hear comments on the proposed budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2010, and to set the millage, will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the library, 211 Commercial St. – the day after Labor Day and the first day of school.

The library budget for 2008-2009 is $390,300.

As Jones passed Shamalla’s resignation letter around the table, he said, “Mike, this is your chance to change your mind because it would save us doing all this stuff” to recruit his replacement.

“Are you calling my bluff or are you sincere?” Shamalla replied. “If I said I went to church today and prayed on it and I would stay …”

“You don’t even have to tell me you went to church,” Jones said. “Just say you want to stay.”

Shamalla grabbed his letter and crumpled it into a ball, ending the brief exchange in applause.

“I’ve had some hard times here and I’ve had some good times,” he said. “I’ve learned more than I could possibly tell all of you. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity. I’ve learned to be a better person. I’m going to give it all I’ve got, and all I can ask is for your honesty and patience. Bear with me and I’ll do the very best I can. Let’s move forward.”
So move forward the board did, discussing how to tackle replacement of 41 collapsing treated timbers across the 36-foot south wall lining the rear parking lot and an adjoining five-foot east wall and restoration with shrubs and landscaping.

The timbers do not compliment the classic architecture of the historic Carnegie building. “Money may be better spent on mortar repairs of this wall rather than replacement of the timber structure that covers it,” City Engineer Christopher J. Bolt advised. “Demolition of the wall, cleaning of the stone foundation and restoration of the area with topsoil will take two to three employees less than a day to complete.”

The board, which requires approval for any expenditure exceeding $300, agreed to hire a structural engineer for an opinion.
According to the circulation report for July, total circulation of 5,299 included 4,288 adult department materials and 1,011 youth department materials.

The board approved job descriptions updated from 2004, 2005 and 2007 for library director, library coordinator, children’s library assistant, customer services associate, community services coordinator, library page, cleaning and maintenance associate and security associate.

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