The head librarian at the Kingsland Branch Library in Llano County was fired March 9 for reasons such as insubordination and conflict of interest. Photo from Kingsland Library Facebook page
Suzette Baker might seek legal action after she was fired March 9 from her job as head librarian of Llano County’s Kingsland Branch Library, 125 W. Polk St. The reasons given for her dismissal were insubordination and failure to follow instructions.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do now,” Baker said in an interview with DailyTrib.com. “How do you prepare for this? Everything is just gone. I am considering pursuing legal action against them (for unfair termination). I have a couple of calls out to lawyers to see what they say and then I’ll just go from there.”
According to the Employee Disciplinary Action Form given to Baker, she violated two library system internal policies: 1B-2, which covers dress code and states that employees must “act in a professional manner at all times and extend the highest courtesy to co-workers and to the public served,” and 1B-4, which covers conflicts of interest and states that employees shall not engage in a “relationship or activity which could be viewed as a conflict of interest because of the potential or appearance of affecting the employee’s job efficiency, or would reduce his or her ability to make objective decisions in regard to his/her work and responsibility as a county employee.”
“The conflict of interest is because I kept asking for information about Bibliotheca and about what was going on in general,” Baker said.
DailyTrib.com reached out via email to both Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham and Library System Director Amber Milum for comments on the termination on March 9. No response was received by the publication of this story.
Baker is a Lake Buchanan resident and has worked in the Llano County Library System for the past three years. She was first hired to oversee the library’s young adult book section and later promoted to head librarian at the Kingsland branch.
“This board doesn’t care about anything other than what they want,” Baker said. “That’s not how a library is. A library should care about what everybody wants.”
Additionally, Baker said head librarians were not given updates on board discussions nor were they asked to share their library expertise with the board.
Before being fired, Baker received a written warning on Feb. 9 for insubordination after attending the first two advisory board meetings, one of which was held at the Kingsland Library where she worked, as well as a Feb. 1 by-laws subcommittee meeting, also held at the Kingsland Library in one of its meeting rooms. According to library policy, any event held in a library meeting room is open to the public.
Baker said she attended these meetings to better understand what was going on. She also said she shared information about the discussions with Milum, the library system director, afterward.
On Feb. 16, Baker and other members of the Kingsland Library staff received an email from Milum informing them that “staff members are not to attend Advisory Board meetings” and that they “may not use your vacation time to attend.”
“Telling us we cannot take personal time or vacation to attend any meetings is a violation of civil rights,” Baker said. “When (myself and other staff members) approached (Human Resources) about it, we were told not to start any trouble.”
The goal is to raise $50,000, an amount exceeding Baker’s previous $35,500 yearly salary, to help with living expenses and possible legal fees.
“Ms. Baker has been an exceptional librarian with a strong sense of ethics and a keen knowledge of all library services at the Kingsland branch of the Llano County Library System for three years,” Little wrote on the GoFundMe page.