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Wednesday, September 11, 2019 1:00 am

Book-discard group wary of ACPL hire

Question new manager's role in 2017 library survey

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

The loosely organized Facebook group protesting the Allen County Public Library's recent practice of discarding large numbers of books is now campaigning against a new hire.

Online, the group has urged members to write to board members – and the government officials who appoint them – to ask questions about the hiring of Kimberly Bolan Cullin as the library system's public operations manager.

Cullin is a founder of Kimberly Bolan and Associates, the firm that was hired to do a 2017 survey on public satisfaction with the local library's services.

Opponents have alleged the survey fed a practice of removing books to enlarge gathering spaces, while misleading those who responded about its purpose and misrepresenting some results.

Cullin would take a position previously held by Monica Cassanova. Stephanny Smith, library spokeswoman, said it was “not appropriate” to comment on “any one employee” or on salary matters.

Smith said the position oversees managers at the library system's 13 branches.

Cullin would begin Oct. 1. Public records show the position previously paid about $75,000. 

Library board member Sharon Tucker said she was aware of patrons' questions and concerns. However, she said, the board does not approve hiring except for the hiring of the library director.

That position is now held by Greta Southard.

Tucker said the board does approve contracts. Opponents have raised the issue because Cullin in March announced online she and her husband, Rob Cullin, had taken jobs with Ratio Architects, a firm that has redesigned libraries as a specialty, according to its website. The firm has an office in Indianapolis.

Cullin wrote she was dissolving Bolan and Associates. She could not be reached for comment. A woman who answered the phone at Ratio said Cullin no longer worked there but said she would give a message to her.

Library board members recently have been informally discussing the needs of several branches' facilities, including whether they need to be enlarged or renovated, Smith confirmed.

Opponents have said the Bolan survey did not provide a mandate for more gathering spaces, but many who responded were concerned about empty bookshelves at their libraries and a perceived lessening of new book purchases.

The survey was answered by 1,255 Allen County residents in a county with 372,877 people, officials said. More than 80% of respondents agreed that “my library has adequate space for my needs,” with only 8% of respondents disagreeing. 

rsalter@jg.net