Library governing board misses quorum to vote on director evaluation 

Library Director Shaney Livingston at a January meeting.
Library Director Shaney Livingston at a January meeting.
Photo by Glory Reitz

The Alachua County Library District (ACLD) Governing Board failed to form a quorum in its meeting on Thursday. The board was set to discuss its performance evaluation, and one from the Board of Trustees, for Library Director Shaney Livingston. 

Livingston’s evaluation was previously scheduled for the board’s Dec. 14 meeting but was postponed. Though Thursday’s meeting packet contained performance reviews and goals from most of the governors, the board could not vote to accept them. 

Governors Ken Cornell, Cynthia Chestnut and Marihelen Wheeler were present for Thursday’s meeting. One other member was supposed to call in virtually, but the board lacked a quorum to make the exception to allow the call. 

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Based on the agenda packet for Thursday’s meeting, four out of five governors rated Livingston’s performance as “outstanding,” and one marked her as “exceeds job standards.” There was no review from the sixth governor, Mary Alford. 

Governors cited library programming, finances and diversity, as well as Livingston’s professionalism and ethics, as reasons for their high ratings of the director. 

“[Livingston’s] performance is consistently excellent when compared to the standards of the job,” Governor Leanetta McNealy wrote in her review. “Mrs. Livingston maintains high standards of ethics, honesty, and integrity… I appreciate the manner in which she handles sensitive issues, disturbing questions and situations.” 

Library administration has faced some scrutiny after anonymous library workers raised concerns about workplace environment, leading to the formation and dissolution of an ad hoc committee to look into the claims. Instead of the committee, the governing board has requested an employee satisfaction survey, and for employees to work through their union. 

The board also submitted several goals for Livingston to work toward in 2024, including the following: 

Cynthia Chestnut (Chair): 

  • More collaborative efforts in the community 
  • Continued financial stewardship 
  • Continued partnership with the state 

Marihelen Wheeler (Vice Chair): 

  • Continued engagement with public schools to encourage interest in library work as a profession 
  • Consider a reading camp in the summer for struggling student readers 

Ken Cornell 

  • Continue seeking to employ best practices and utilizing staff 

Leanetta McNealy: 

  • Continue specific goals and objectives researched by director and staff 

Reina Saco: 

  • Employee retention plan and staff diversity plan 

The ACLD Board of Trustees also submitted a review of Livingston—unanimously “outstanding”— and included some goals of its own, as follows: 

  • Continue establishing collaboration with community organizations and businesses to promote literacy in communities without ready access to library services 
  • Maintain financial stewardship with continued reports to both boards 
  • Continue use of social media 
  • Continue staff trading at local, state and national levels 
  • On-site visits to each library branch in 2024 
  • Data on the “focus on minority recruitment and retention” 
  • Have a staff member other than the director meet informally with all personnel to gain ideas for possible procedural/administrative changes to enhance ACLD’s operation 
  • Continue pursuit of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve efficiency and patron services 

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Elizabeth Jenkins

Well, I’m certain “somebody” knows better than I do, after being a lifelong Florida educator & a resident of Alachua County since 2012. The atmosphere has certainly changed, at least in my local branch. When I moved to Gainesville, the library was the only place where I felt comfortable & always saw smiles from the employees.