1. Archive

Dunedin library director leaving job

Published Sep. 27, 2005

The director headed the effort to build a state-of-the-art library, but a 1999 survey showed the staff's concerns.

Months after questions were raised about her leadership and the city's top management scrutinized staffing and morale in her department, Dunedin Public Library director Wendy Foley has resigned.

City Manager John Lawrence said Foley's departure is not a result of the troubles that emerged last year; he praised her performance in the city.

"I think she did an excellent job for us, especially in the transition from the old library to the new library," Lawrence said. "She was team captain and navigated us through that."

Foley, 51, whose last day is today, said she does not have another job.

"I have accomplished virtually everything I had wanted to accomplish," Foley said. "I think it's time for someone new to take the library over."

Reference librarian Barbara Skubish will serve as interim director while the city searches for Foley's replacement.

Foley, who has a master's degree in library science, left the Clearwater Public Library in 1994 to become Dunedin's director. In that position, she was paid $56,600 and was responsible for a budget of $1.5-million and 35 employees.

She has been praised for heading an effort to construct a state-of-the-art library on Douglas Avenue in 1996, her technical knowledge and helping develop better quality services.

But the library has suffered from growing pains as its patronage, services and hours grew but its staffing did not.

To try to address the problems, Foley commissioned an independent workplace survey in July 1999. In it, 68 percent of library employees said they were dissatisfied with top management and were highly critical of the library's working conditions and leadership.

Many of the employees' criticisms, which were accepted anonymously, were directed at Foley. The employees complained she had "very poor management skills" and lacked leadership.

Both Lawrence and Assistant City Manager Maureen Freaney spent many hours talking with the library staff about the problems. In March, the City Commission approved spending $117,000 to fix staffing shortfalls, which they said would help address the morale problems.

In recent years, Foley's overall performance evaluations had slipped. For the first three years she was on the job, she scored a 3.3 on a 0-to-4 scale. Then in 1998, Lawrence gave her a 3.0 rating. Last year, he graded her performance at 2.9, although he expressed confidence in her.

"I believe that you have the skills to resolve the various issues, especially personnel issues, facing the library," he wrote.

Ed Herrmann, chairman of the city's library committee and a library volunteer, said he felt Foley was "running a good shop."

"We're in a slight state of shock," Herrmann said. "I'm very disappointed and I'll miss her."