June 29, 2017
|Lesley Williams has resigned from her post as head of adult services |
at the Evanston Public Library. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)
The announcement follows controversy in recent weeks over her time in the job, issues that included a 15-day suspension and a termination hearing earlier this month after the 20-plus-year veteran librarian wrote a public Facebook post criticizing the diversity of the Evanston Public Library, where she worked.
"I take this step with deep regret and sorrow. I have treasured my 20 years at EPL, and the many friendships and collegial relationships formed there," Williams wrote in an emailed statement. But, she wrote, "the current hostile atmosphere and mistrust would make it impossible for me to continue to be effective."
Williams declined to comment on whether she was asked to resign by the library or city staff, the library board or the City Council. Instead, she said, "we came to a mutual agreement on what was best for everyone."
Williams will retire with severance pay, she said, but declined to specify how much.
But, she said, "I don't feel any immediate pressure to get a new job. I don't have any immediate need to do that."
Williams said her future plans include advocating for "equity, social justice and racial justice" within the library system, city of Evanston and elsewhere.
Her decision follows weeks of community protests in support of Williams, the system's only African-American librarian. Williams' supporters have included Pastor Michael Nabors with Second Baptist Church and president of the Evanston/North Shore NAACP, as well as members of Evanston community group OPAL, the Organization for Positive Action and Leadership, among others.
Williams has said she could not go into details about the personnel issue that prompted the resignation, but said it involved accusations of "gross incompetence, insubordination and not contributing to a healthy work environment."
In the past, Evanston Public Library officials have declined to comment on the case, saying it is illegal to discuss personnel matters in public. Library officials did not return calls and emails seeking comment Thursday.
Administrators introduced new assistant library director Teri Campbell at the library board meeting earlier this month. Campbell also is African American.
Source: Chicago Tribune