Tag Archives: Berkeley Public Library

Breaking: Jeff Scott resigns as Berkeley library director

Jeff Scott
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The Berkeley Public Library announced Monday that Jeff Scott has officially resigned from his position as director of library services. The move comes just 10 months after Scott took the position, in November 2014. The resignation is effective Sept. 8.  

Scott’s abrupt departure comes in the wake of a controversy over the weeding of books at Berkeley’s central library, which has put the library director on the defensive over the past few weeks. Criticism centered on his management style and his perceived honesty.

“It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as the Director of Library Services of the Berkeley Public Library. I have enjoyed my work here at the library and I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish,” Scott said in a prepared statement.

The Library Board of Trustees will initiate a search to fill Scott’s position, according to the statement, released by Abigail Franklin, chair of the board, shortly after 2 p.m. Monday. In the interim, Sarah Dentan, acting deputy director, will serve as acting director.

Read more about the controversial weeding at Berkeley’s central library.

“I have appreciated the enthusiasm for library services that Jeff has brought to Berkeley and wish him well,” Franklin said. … Continue reading »

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Performance of Berkeley’s library director under fire at meeting of library trustees

Jeff Scott, far left at table, talks to members of BOLT before an Aug. 26 meeting. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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More than 40 people expressed concern about the actions of the Berkeley Library director at a specially called meeting Wednesday night of the Board of Library Trustees.

Those who spoke publicly – who were supported by 40 observers  – not only complained about the aggressive book weeding policy put forward by Jeff Scott, the director, but about other issues, including what they perceive as a hostile working environment and a lack of honesty and trust. They said they thought Scott had lied to the community about the number of books weeded out. (Scott initially said he thought 2,200 books had been discarded this year. He later acknowledged that the real number was 39,000). Some also said they were punished for speaking out against the collections management policy.

As Scott sat at the front of the room, his head bowed as he took notes, in what must have been an excruciatingly difficult meeting for him, a number of the speakers called for him to be either fired or suspended without pay. Others asked for an independent investigation into the weeding process: how it occurred, what might have gone wrong, and what could be learned from it. … Continue reading »

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Library

Berkeley library director admits vast discrepancies in numbers of weeded books

Berkeley’s Central Library on Kittredge Street: its collection is being weeded and not everyone is happy and how it’s being done. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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Over 39,000 items have been weeded from Berkeley Public Library this year, far more than the couple of thousand previously cited by Library Director Jeff Scott. The 39,000 items include 13,850 deleted last copies of books. According to Scott, however, the 39,000 items is comparable to the average weeded over the last two years.

“I had the wrong information,” Scott said. “There was an internal process different to what I realized.”

The vast discrepancies emerged following protests by an ad hoc group of retired librarians and other library users over a new system for deaccessioning, introduced by Scott. Two Public Records Act requests — by a Berkeley High student and a Bay Area News Group reporter — failed to produce either the number of weeded items or details on which titles had been removed. Councilman Kriss Worthington met with Scott on July 24 and, according to Worthington, he was able to find the real number of weeded items after Scott “pushed the right buttons” on his computer.

Worthington and the retired librarians are holding a rally at noon today, Aug. 12, on the main library’s steps protesting what he has dubbed “Librarygate.” … Continue reading »

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Obscure and popular books part of Berkeley library weeding process

Berkeley’s Central Library on Kittredge Street: its collection is being weeded and not everyone is happy and how it’s being done. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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When librarians from the Berkeley Public Library were examining books that had not been checked out for three years to determine which ones to keep and which to discard, they reviewed “The Housefly: Its Natural History, Medical Importance, and Control,” written by Luther S. West in 1951. It was retained.

So was “A Guide to Shrubs for Coastal California,” by Harry Morton Butterfield, published in 1980, and the memoir “The Peacocks of Baboquivari,” by Erma J. Fisk, which came out in 1987.

But the librarians agreed that Yingxing Song’s “Chinese Technology in the Seventeenth Century,” described by its publisher as a “1637 classic on the history of traditional Chinese technology,” didn’t need to remain in circulation. Neither did “Creating Color: a Dyer’s Handbook,” by Judy Anne Walter or “Strip City: A Stripper’s Farewell Journey across America,” by Lily Burana. … Continue reading »

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Protesters rally, check out books to make clear concerns over weeding at Berkeley Central Library

CarolLashof Photo: William Newton
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A crowd of around 30 people gathered at the front of the Central Branch of the Berkeley Public Library today to protest new procedures for weeding books from the library’s collection. The protesters believe the process, ordered by Library Director Jeff Scott, is being carried out irresponsibly.

Members of the group carried signs reading “Vive la bibliothèque” (it’s Bastille Day after all), “Put a tourniquet on the hemorrhage” and “Don’t pulp our fiction.”

In an effort to save books that are in danger of being weeded out, one of the rally leaders, Pat Mullan, who worked for BPL for 25 years, including as head librarian of the Art & Music Room, encouraged protesters and spectators to check out the maximum of 50 books from sections that have not yet been weeded  — including the 800s (literature), 900s (history) and musical records.

Weeding, technically known as “deaccession,” is a standard procedure used by libraries to keep collections in good shape. The central branch is starting by examining books that have not been checked out in three years (10 years for art and music books).  … Continue reading »

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Library fans voice concerns over weeding of books

The Berkeley Public Library at 2090 Kittredge St. Photo: Anne Holmes
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An orchestrated clearing out of books at the Berkeley Central Library, ordered by the library’s director, Jeff Scott, has sounded alarm-bells for some current and former librarians, as well as community members. Their concerns, which they have shared with the city’s mayor as well as the Board of Library Trustees, center on who is doing the weeding of books — what is technically referred to as “deaccession” — the number of discarded volumes, as well as their fate.

Scott said the weeding — a standard library practice — is overdue, as it had been done irregularly prior to his arrival in late 2014, and that, once it’s completed, the library will actually see a net gain in books as new ones are brought in. He said the total will rise from 452,000 to 470,000. Full capacity for the main branch is half a million books, he said.

Read more about Berkeley’s libraries on Berkeleyside.

The method used to weed books is a process called CREW (Continuous Review Evaluation Weeding), Scott said, which begins by extracting and evaluating books from shelves that have not been checked out from the library for three years or more (10+ years in the case of art and music books). … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Nigerian guitar master and singer Soji Odukogbe will open the Amoeba Music Concert at 1 p.m. in People's Park at the Berkeley World Music Festival. Photo: Soji Odukogbe
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BERKELEY WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL Local artists from diverse musical traditions play at the Berkeley World Music Festival this weekend. The festival will be held in People’s Park and across various Telegraph Avenue locales. The mission of the festival is to “cultivate artistic vibrancy and social value of the world music panorama for the benefit of local communities,” according to organizers. See berkeleyworldmusic.org for a schedule of events, which run from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 13. And check out our feature on Thomas Mapfumo, “the lion,” who kicks off the festival on Friday night at Ashkenaz. … Continue reading »

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Fathers the focus of Nancy Rubin’s photography show

Photo: Nancy Rubin
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UPDATE, 07.16.15: Nancy Rubin’s photography exhibition at the North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library has been extended until July 31.

ORIGINAL STORY: When Nancy Rubin taught the pioneering Social Living class at Berkeley High School from the late ’70s to the ’90s, she became something of a public figure and was often asked to comment on the challenges faced by teenagers. People would say: if there was one thing that could be changed to help the kids who are getting in trouble, what would it be? Rubin was quick to point out that there was no “magic wand.” However she did have a suggestion: “Put a loving father in every home.”

That’s not to say that children can’t be raised exceptionally well by a single mom or two women, Rubin said recently at her home, where she was preparing for her first solo photography exhibition that centers on fathers. All sorts of kids do really well in all sorts of family situations, Rubin stressed. But as someone who grew up with a “wonderful, warm” father, Rubin could only wish the same for the students she was mentoring, some of whom had no relationships with their own fathers. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

This weekend is your last chance to see Theatre First's production of Glenngary Glen Ross at Live Oak Theatre. Photo: Theater First
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GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS This weekend is your last chance to see Theatre First’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross at Live Oak Theatre, as its run has its final day on Sunday. David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy about working-class real-estate salesmen trying to eke out a living in the fast-paced economy of the 1980s and claim their piece of the American Dream became an instant classic of American theatre and is regarded as one of the playwright’s best plays. For details and to buy tickets, visit Theatre First’s website or phone 510-981 8150. … Continue reading »

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After outcry, library board votes to change South Branch name to include civil-rights leader

Protesters at BOLT meeting. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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The Berkeley Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) Thursday night voted to recommend to the City Council that the South Branch of the library be renamed to include the name of Tarea Hall Pittman (1903-1991), a long-time South Berkeley resident and civil-rights leader.

The 4-1 vote overturned a previous April 22 vote by the board that prevented the library from including Pittman’s name. The decision marked a shift in its renaming policy that applies to all four Berkeley libraries, so petitions for more name changes may be in the city’s future.

Read more on the run-up to Thursday’s meeting.

Public outcry, in the form of a grassroots campaign by South Berkeley neighbors to see the library renamed, led by local resident Charles Austin, appears to have had an impact on the board, which called the special May 7 meeting to reconsider both the general naming policy of its libraries, and whether to include Pittman’s name in the South Branch’s name. Campaigners collected more than 2,000 signatures on a petition in favor of the idea.  … Continue reading »

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Library to reconsider proposal to rename South Branch

The South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library opened in May 2013. Photo: Richard Friedman
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The Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) will hold a special session Thursday May 7 at 6:30 p.m. to make a final decision on a community proposal to rename the South Branch library after a local activist.

At its April 22 meeting, BOLT considered the petition to rename the branch at 1901 Russell Street after the late Tarea Hall Pittman, a black civil-rights leader and radio host who lived nearby. The five members heard impassioned speeches from community members and ultimately voted 3-2 against a motion to suspend the library naming policy, which would have allowed them to vote on the proposal.

Two of the trustees who voted against the motion, Julie Holcomb and Jim Novosel, were up for reappointment at the April 28 council meeting.

At that meeting, Councilman Laurie Capitelli pushed the item to the June meeting to allow for further discussions about the name change.

“I realize that there are a lot of people here tonight to support Ms. Pittman and I think probably a lot of frustration in the audience coming from last Wednesday’s meeting,” he said. “I think people of goodwill are reaching out to one another. I think we’re going to find a path forward.” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: The Berkeley Library should apply larger view in naming its buildings

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On Wednesday April 22 at 6:30 p.m., the Board of Library Trustees will meet at the South Branch Library at 1901 Russell St. to review its naming policy and to hear requests to rename the South Branch to honor Tarea Hall Pittman.

The Berkeley Public Library’s Naming Policy strongly favors naming branch libraries only for their geographical location — north, south etc. The Policy sets stringent requirements for naming any of the libraries after any person except “the … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Linda and the Cultural Heritage Tour
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SPIRITUALS AS SACRED MUSIC The Second Annual Black History Month Celebration on Sat. Feb. 28 will be a lively affair, with a program emphasizing the history of African-American spirituals as sacred music. The program at the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, 1936 Allston Way, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., will feature musical performances by some of the region’s most accomplished performers. Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Tour, a “Grammy-nominated, percussion-driven, vocal ensemble whose mission is to preserve and share the rich musical traditions of African-American roots music,” is the headliner. Othello Jefferson, Diamano Coura West African Dance Company, Berkeley High African American Dance Troupe, Sister’s Keeper, and James Daley will also be there. There will be a “Black Invention” display featuring 20 artifacts. There will be booths with food. … Continue reading »

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