By Sheri ArbitalJacoby and Britney Trachtenberg
The Great Neck Library held its annual reorganization meeting on Jan. 29. The new Board of Trustees said goodbye to the old board and the new board, which was elected on Oct. 29, was seated.
The agenda had called for an executive session on “personnel,” followed by a public meeting at which the board was scheduled to accept Library Director Denise Corcoran’s resignation.
However, prior to the public meeting, the board went into executive session. Upon the board’s coming out of executive session, there was no discussion of the resignation.
Instead, that executive session was followed by a public meeting with awards for outgoing members. New board members took their seats and new officers were elected by the board. A second longer executive session and a short public meeting followed.
“It was the strangest thing I ever saw,” said one observer. “Everyone said they had never seen anything like this before at the library.” Two executive sessions had alternated with two public meetings.
Outgoing members of both the Nominating Committee and the Board of Trustees said their goodbyes.
Howard Esterces and Donald Panetta, who completed their three-year elected term, and Marietta DiCamillo, who was appointed to complete the term of a member who stepped down, were presented with certificates for their hard work on the Nominating Committee.
Certificates were presented to outgoing President Robert Schaufeld and outgoing Trustee Joel Marcus for their dedication as members of the Board of Trustees.
“It’s wonderful what we’ve been able to accomplish,” said Marcus.
During Schaufeld’s speech after receiving his certificate, he talked about how initially he found being on this board hard work, but after a while he did not mind the large task he was handling. Schaufeld also said that coming into work four nights a week for meetings soon felt like a routine.
Rebecca Miller accepted her newly elected position as president of the Board of Trustees after Schaufeld said his goodbyes. She then continued the meeting, accepting the nominations and elections of the rest of the board officers.
Weihua Yan was elected vice president; Dr. Barry Smith was elected secretary; Josie Pizer was elected treasurer; Chelsea Sassouni was elected assistant treasurer; and Mimi Hu was elected second assistant treasurer.
The meeting schedule for the coming year was set and included the Reorganization Meeting for Jan. 7, 2020. Miller said this board’s last meeting would be in December 2019.
Though the meeting agenda listed Corcoran’s resignation, it was not mentioned at either public meeting. When a resident asked why, the board said that it was not their decision at this time. No announcement was made regarding an interim director.
“In the year Denise Corcoran has been director of the Great Neck Library, she brought the promise of better times,” said Rebecca Rosenblatt Gilliar, who served on the Director Search Committee in 2017 that selected Corcoran from a field of applicants. “She worked tirelessly to undo the damage of recent years. She began to reverse the massive discard of 200,000 books in 2014–16 and to welcome back hundreds of those books that had been saved and were hidden. She moved the library forward technologically. She valued the library staff and treated it as a team. But, in the end, she could not overcome the entrenched obstacles. Her decision to resign is too bad for Great Neck.”
Read more about some of the priceless books returning to the library here.