County library director draws fire at meeting

  • Sonoma County library director Sandra Cooper.

Critics of Sonoma County Library Director Sandra Cooper packed a meeting Monday night in Sonoma to relay their concerns that the library system is being poorly run under her direction.

Several speakers at the library commission meeting were critical of Cooper's decision to close the county's 13 library branches on Mondays and what they said was her failure to order furnishings that had been paid for by library support groups.

"It's a continuing and continuing disconnect, and we all want the same thing," said Daphne Matthews, a librarian at the Sonoma Valley branch for 21 years.

An overflow crowd of about 50 people attended the meeting at the West Napa Street library.

The concerns raised about Cooper mirrored those in a county grand jury report released last week that said she is an "unresponsive" leader who "undermines the spirit" of the 1975 joint powers agreement that created the county's modern library system.

Toward the end of Monday's meeting, the commission only took up the procedural issue of who would draft the response to the grand jury. It has 90 days to do so.

The fact the grand jury response wasn't addressed until 10:30 p.m. disappointed one man who told commissioners it made people question whether "it was deliberate or not."

Commissioner Mary Evelyn Arnold, who represents the Sonoma Valley, replied that it wasn't put there "for any nefarious reason."

The library commission, which has seven members appointed by county supervisors and by city councils in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, meets monthly and has authority over the director's job.

County supervisors grilled Cooper last week during a budget hearing, with Supervisor Mike McGuire telling Cooper he believed she has been operating the library "like an island."

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