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Notes from the May 9, 2019 Library Board Meeting
By Editor Becky Watts

ZEBULON - The J. Joel Edwards Public Library Board of Trustees met on May 9, 2019. Members present included: Patsy Page, Joy Walker, Treasurer Curtis Ward, Library Manager Rosemary Bunn, Flint River Regional Library System (FRRLS) Director Natalie Marshall, Vice Chair Gillian Appleton, Secretary Rhonda Morgan, Patty Talley, Tina Venus, Anthony Vinson, and Chair Audrey Lanier. Jane Harkness, Kim from the library, Friends of the J. Joel Edwards Library President Bobby Bunn, and Becky Watts from Pike County Times in the audience. County Manager (CM) Bobby Bickley here in the beginning but left after Executive Session.

[Note from the Editor: I have been attending Library Board meetings since November. There are links to each of these meetings at the bottom of the page. You can obtain copies of the official minutes of these meetings at the J. Joel Edwards Library. Each month's official minutes are copied and hung on the bulletin board in the foyer of the library after the minutes are approved by the board, and you can read an extended amount of minutes by asking to see the Library Board Minutes Notebook at the counter.]



There was a lot of discussion about the Executive Session for Library Manager Rosemary Bunn's Annual Evaluation which was listed on the agenda. Several members seemed to be apprehensive about the Executive Session because the Library Manager is a county employee rather than answering solely to the Library Board as it has been prior to the past year. Some were concerned with legality. Others with wasting time on something that the county should be handling because Rosemary is a county employee. The Chair was insistent that this be presented to the county manager and said that this process could be changed in the future if that is what members would like. [Note from the Editor: There was much discussion by email prior to this meeting and some members that refused to send in their evaluations to the Chair by email.]

Further discussion included reading the Open Meetings Regulation regarding Executive Session regulations to ensure that regulations are met. FRRLS Director Natalie Marshall weighed in on the requirement and said that this board may give an annual evaluation but that it is not required. The County Manager was then asked if he was there to accept the annual evaluation documentation from the library board, and he said yes. Two members said that they were uncomfortable giving their evaluations to anyone other the county manager. Chair Lanier advised that this is the same procedure as last year with an anonymous spreadsheet and that there were no objections last year.

Motion to approve the agenda. Approved. 5-1 with Joy Walker against. Patsy Page, Vice Chair Appleton, and Tina Venus abstained. Natalie was asked about this process by Audrey and Natalie advised that prior to the county manager being invited into the previous Executive Session, she could not remember the county manager ever being involved in an executive session.

Motion to go into Executive Session 4:44 p.m. with all board members, FRRLS Director Natalie Marshall, and County Manager Bobby Bickley. Everyone else left the room.

Library Manager Rosemary Bunn was invited into the Executive Session at 5:03 p.m. Back in session at 5:07 p.m.


Motion to approve. 2nd. Discussion. Patty Talley asked for a change in the draft minutes prior to approval. Three members were opposed to any changes with the minutes, but a majority of the board voted this motion down so Patty could make the changes that she asked for in the minutes. Motion to accept the minutes as amended. 2nd. Approved 8-0.


FRRLS Director Natalie Marshall gave out a rubric that detailed advisory board including advisory vs. managerial duties. The "what" is what the library works on (policy) and the "how" is what the library manager does (procedure based on policy). She walked through the list of duties and responsibilities and strongly suggested that the board make a bylaws change and consider going back to quarterly meetings as was done until 2012. Much of Natalie's discussion mirrored the letter in the following paragraph.

[Note from the Editor: This is a synopsis from the letter that was sent to County Manager Bobby Bickley on May 6, 2019.] Natalie Marshall is the Executive Director of the Flint River Regional Library System. She advised that CM Bickley that the advisory board of the library has been "in considerable turmoil" in recent months and that the regional library headquarters has offered information and training in order to "facilitate board efficiency." Most of the members have attended this training, but she advised that there is a "gulf between what was discussed and what is being put into practice." She outlined several examples of "blurring of lines between library board and library management" that have led to "confusion and misunderstanding:" 1) the board attempting to make policy that is too detailed and crossed over into procedural matters without justification for the change or why it needed to be so specific 2) the lack of progress at spending excess fund balance despite months of documentation provided by the Library Manager that has now been given to a committee so the committee can do an open-ended needs assessment 3) the board has tried to "exert influence over the responsibilities of the Library Manager, including choosing what purchases to make, what items to circulate, the disposition of donations, and procedures associated with day to day library functions" 4) she pointed out that there have been problems with the "use of the responsibilities and duties of Executive Committee functions" and said that Executive Committee Meetings should be few and far between and saved for "emergent issues." She also added the following sentence: "All board members should be confident in knowing they can add agenda items, make motions during meetings, and express their opinions without censure or feeling demeaned." She went on to say that while it is appropriate for members to want to improve the library and safeguard its resources, if that "zeal" results in overreach by the whole board or by individual members, this damages the library's ability to function properly and the library manager's job to do the job that she has been hired to do. "Micromanagement creates inefficiency and the inability to conduct the business of the library by the library board and the library manager, paralyzing the efforts of both." She closed out her letter by making a statement and asking a question: "Appointing advisory board members for the mutual benefit of the library and the community is the responsibility of the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education, and ensuring the compliance of library boards to legal statute best practice is the responsibility of the regional library system. How can we, as stakeholders in the continued success of the library, work together to improve the conditions which are preventing its smooth operation and governance?" She then welcomed thoughts, questions, or concerns about library operations and management and included a rubric with duties and responsibilities of the Board and the Director. [End of letter synopsis.]

She said that she knows that everyone sitting in this room loves the library but told them that she was concerned that in this zeal you are moving frequently into library management including continuing discussions about the fund balance expenditure and the community needs assessment. [Note from the Editor: There was a Special Called Meeting on April 25, 2019 that is included in the notes after the conclusion of the April 11, 2019 meeting at the bottom of the page. Long and short of that meeting is that Chairman Lanier called a meeting that was attended by three members of the Executive Committee (Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer) and came up with a motion that was to be proposed to the Library Board on May 9, 2019 to establish a Special Committee to conduct a Needs Analysis for STEAMroom equipment purchases for the library prior to making any purchases. This was mentioned in the letter from Natalie Marshall above.] Natalie continued and said that Rosemary has her finger on the pulse of the community, and she needs to be allowed to do the job that she was hired to do for the board and for the community. She commended members for wanting to make fiscally responsible decisions, but she suggested to members that they take advantage of Rosemary's knowledge because that is why she is hired.

Click here to read the Separation of Duties List that Natalie gave to each of the members at this meeting.

Member Anthony Vinson stood up and started clapping and was joined by several board members. Audrey asked to respond and Natalie asked her to please let her finish because she is driving back and forth from Valdosta to attend our meetings.

Natalie closed by saying that members need to careful not to stray into the responsibilities of the library manager and gave some specifics. The board ok's the spending of the fund balance, Rosemary decides what to buy within the budget. When deciding what to circulate, what can be donated, what needs to be discarded, etc., that is Rosemary’s job. She has her training and knows her job. Let her do her job. She then stressed that Executive Committee meetings need to be for emergency purposes only. She advised the board to keep to your structure and let Rosemary keep to hers. Don’t micromanage. We all want to do our job and make our library a better place. She asked for questions and comments.

Member Joy Walker said thank you to Natalie for saying all this. She said that it makes it clear that we’ve had our hands tied for months. She then asked the chairman to volunteer to resign from her position as chairman of the board and made a motion to do this. Anthony made a point of order on this and said that Joy's motion is out of order and that is not the time to bring this up. Joy asked when the right time to bring it would be. She tried to make the motion again and was called out of order by Anthony again. Chairman Audrey Lanier then spoke and said that she could not allow this motion on the floor right now. Natalie said that she had one more thing, and Joy apologized because she thought that Natalie was finished. She wants to help this board move forward will less confusion from here on out.

Joy apologized to Natalie again, made sure that she was finished and then said that she would still like to make a motion that Audrey step down as chair of the board. 2nd from Member Patsy Page. She asked for a vote and Audrey advised that this is still not allowed. Anthony continued to say that this was out of order and Audrey agreed with there being an emphasis on procedure.

Gillian asked about procedural things and asked for examples of what the board was doing that it shouldn't be doing. Example: Natalie stated that the policy about Rosemary signing in as she goes into the school was hotly contested at the time and said that it is a procedure and not a policy. She also said that Rosemary makes the purchases.

Audrey argued that signing in is the school board policy and said that we made a suggestion that she follow school board policy. Natalie said that you don’t need to tell your manager to do things that she already knows how to do.

Member Tina Venus asked a question for the record. Rosemary, what is your degree? Master of Liberal Arts degree with its core in Western Philosophy supplemented by Disciplinary Studies. How long have you been working in libraries? Since 2000. Tina then said, so you know what you’re doing. And Anthony thanked Natalie for driving from Valdosta.


Rosemary said that the expenditures were not included on the agenda again so she has included it in her report. She also advised that there were no changes in personnel but that the county manager recommended changing the full-time employee to part-time and a part-time employee to full-time.

Incident Reports

A deputy discovered an unlocked door after hours and she received a call about it when she was out of town. Rosemary praised having a positive relationship with the Sheriff's Office because the Lt. stayed at the library until someone could come to lock the doors.

She then advised that she had gotten a call from Friends of the Library. They are here to support the library and have given about $1,000 worth of books to the library this fiscal year. She said that a library board member called the President of the Friends of the Library and acted like she did not know who she was calling. Rosemary pointed out Bobby Bunn who is the President and said that he was harassed for donating bags to the library. That is not creating positive relationships in the library. I resent that. We have a very small group who is here to support the library. She said that she asked if they would buy the bags and they did. She specified again that they donated bags and said that this should not be an issue for the board. She said that they have donated thousands of dollars to the library in books and other items and that she doesn't appreciate them being harassed. She said that was uncalled for. [Note from the Editor: You can read more about this 3 ring circus by clicking here. It's mentioned in the meeting as well as in a series of emails that tied up the time of our county manager. Natalie said very clearly that expenditures are under the authority of the library manager and not the library board. One other note is that Rosemary did not introduce Bobby as her husband, but simply as the President of the Friends of the Library. Any of these board members who have spent time at various programs over the years would know that bit of information, but it wasn't stated at this time. Yes, I just listened to my copy of this meeting to be sure. Forgive me for being tired of watching the chair speak on behalf of the board without the board's knowledge and just behave badly in general toward board members in meetings. This is the 7th month of meetings that I have attended to ensure that county and state rules are being followed, and I have never seen anyone act badly for so long when I am sitting in meetings to document their actions!]

Member Tina Venus said that she thought that they had agreed that before any board member contacted someone on behalf of the board, they should discuss that with other board members and include everyone on emails because of disagreements in the past. She said that whoever called has no reflection on her feelings and stated for the record that the board member violated that agreement of the board. [Note from the Editor: Click here and look under "Application to join the Board" and "Behavior of Members" to find a discussion that no individual members may make decisions or act outside of the board.]

Audrey disagreed that this was speaking on the behalf of the board. She admitted that she made the phone call and said that it was not on behalf on the behalf of the board. Tina said that Audrey is the chair of the board. Discussion about the bags included that this was knowledge that you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t been at the meeting. Audrey denied that the call was harassive or confrontive in nature and that she just called the number on the website and didn’t know who she was calling at the time. Audrey then spoke to Bobby and advised that the board does not hear from members in meetings, and Bobby said that he and she needed to discuss it afterward then because there is truth and bending of truth. She said that he had her phone number previously because of a reference for a student to work with friends of the library and that he knew who she was and identified himself as Rosemary's husband. She again denied acting on behalf of the board.

Member Patsy Page said that she should identify herself when she makes phone calls. Rosemary then asked if the President of the Friends of the Library could speak before the board. Audrey said no and questioned this incident even being in Rosemary's report. A flurry of discussion that included the fact that commissioners allow people to speak at their meetings.

Motion by Tina Venus to hear what the President of the Friends of the Library has to say. 2nd from Vice Chair Gillian Appleton. Discussion: Secretary Rhonda Morgan said that she thinks this will cause an argument. She felt that the board could work toward unity better if we acknowledged that it happened and that they were wasting time to hear he said/she said. Anthony said no reason to hear this because we just heard that Rosemary is a competent library manager and that the board should accept her report on this without hearing from Bobby.

Tina said that we also came to an agreement before but was interrupted so she asked if Audrey was the only one who has the authority to speak? Anthony then said that he accepted Rosemary's report and Audrey's rebuttal and called to question so a vote can be taken. All in favor except Anthony Vinson, Rhonda Morgan, and Audrey Lanier. [Note from the Editor: I have a 5-3 vote in my notes, but I was not at the table and I am not the official minutes taker. The tape is not clear like with the commissioners and the Chairman states aloud what the vote is and names anyone who is opposed or abstains on the tape for the record. The draft minutes by the secretary show a 6-2 vote with only Anthony Vinson and Rhonda Morgan in opposition. The end result is the same, and Rhonda was also kind enough to write up the draft minutes despite her resignation from this board on the night of the meeting. More on that in a moment. Rhonda did a very good job with these minutes because this meeting was long and there was a lot to put down on paper!]

[Note from the Editor ADDED 6.15.19: This was not changed on the minutes in the June meeting so the official vote was 6-2 with Morgan and Vinson in opposition.]

President of the Friends of the Library Bobby Bunn said that they talked for 2 or 3 minutes before she questioned him about the bookbags, the invoice for the bags, and a copy of invoices. He stated that Friends’ sole purpose is provide money for items when the library needs items. He said that he didn’t identify her until after she asked about the invoices and said that he has never had anyone else ever ask him about an expenditure from the Friends to the library. He said that Friends of the Library has raised a lot of money for the library over the years and that Audrey's version of the story is not what happened.

Any questions? None. Audrey spoke on behalf of the library board to Bobby Bunn and said that we appreciate the work of Friends of the Library and thank you for being here.

Summer Reading

Rosemary said that she is getting ready for Summer Reading and going into the schools. June 1 is the kick off date.

Murder in Coweta County

She advised that the J. Joel Edwards Library has been given full rights to show "Murder in Coweta County" and screen this film as many times as we like. Sheriff Thomas said that we should show it in our courtroom where it was filmed. Producer Dick Atkins would like to be here too. Maybe in the fall. We will do several screenings. Last year was the 50th anniversary.

Fund balance proposal.

STEAMroom is not new in libraries and are all over the state of Georgia. It is what libraries do. She gave a list of what we already have. She brought an example of a stamp for our library and "Shawn the Sheep" made by a 3D printer. She said that other libraries use the 3D printer. Furniture and fixtures are also in this proposal. She said that we need to pay for something in a fiscal year to have a clean audit. We can pay for some now and some now in the next year. We can do a little now and a little later. She reduced some amounts to stay into what is available funding wise and said that March and April had a presentation that was not voted on. She wanted to go through this one part at a time and ask for recommendation.

The actual cost of the microfilm reader is listed along with an update. Kim went through and put together a list of things that we could use the Ellison Die Cut. It will benefit the community as well as the library. She envisions the community using our die cut.

At 6:09 p.m. Chair Audrey Lanier excused herself to go to another meeting and asked Vice Chair Gillian Appleton to take over as acting Chair.

They started going through one by one. Gillian suggested hearing it all and then make a motion. Consensus to do this.

Ellison Die Cut machine, 3D printer, sticker machine, maker space cart, microfilm reader suggested by the state and update microfilms through 2012, $1000 for miscellaneous items like paper, etc. for the STEAMroom. Anthony asked for a total on the STEAMroom supplies only: $16,850. Total for everything else: $6,250. Why shouldn’t we go ahead on buying the entire Ellison Die Cut machine rather than cutting this down? Gillian talked about keeping a $10,000 to $15,000 remaining in the account that would be a safe budget. Anthony asked to add $5,000 for Ellison Die Cut to come to $21,850.

Treasurer Curtis Ward had to leave at 6:23 p.m.

Secretary Rhonda Morgan brought up the sign and suggested keeping some money for the sign.

Anthony made a motion that we buy allocate the amount of $21,850 for STEAMroom supplies as listed on the expenditure sheet (including the extra $5,000) in the proposal to come from fund balance. 2nd. Gillian said that we would be better round up a little because of the possibility of a change in price. Amend no more than $22,500 on supplies. Patty made motion to amend Anthony’s motion that we authorize Rosemary to spend up to $22,500 from the fund balance expenditures for the purchase of STEAMroom supplies. Joy 2nd. Gillian abstained because she is the acting chair as directed by Briar Johnson. Motion passes 5-0-2 with Gillian and Rhonda abstaining.

[Note from the Editor ADDED 6.15.19: Gillian confirmed in the June meeting that she and Rhonda abstained from all of these votes. Whenever Gillian runs a meeting, she is going to abstain from voting unless her vote is neeed to break a tie. According to what Briar told the board--and what I have seen in contentious votes with the Board of Commissioners--a vote to abstain is technically a yes.]

Anthony made a motion to authorize Rosemary to spend up to $6,000 on computer chairs as listed from the fund balance. 2nd. Tina. Discussion? Why just the chairs and not everything else? He has one more motion. 5-0-2. Gillian and Rhonda abstained.

Anthony made a motion that Rosemary could spend up to $2000 on circulating craft tools as proposed from the fund balance. 2nd. Tina. Discussion: Patty said that Mike Maddox had put in a program where kids could go and learn. Knitting, crochet, scrapbooking, photography, etc. This would be very well accepted. 5-0-2 with Gillian and Rhonda abstaining.

Library Manager thanked board members for their votes and said that they have just put Flint River on the map. She was thanked for her vision.


Rosemary pointed out the checking account is already there. The checking is already here and the savings just arrived today but is different because it has $3.98 in interest. Any questions? Curtis and Rosemary were asked to look into the EIN where it was Employer Identification Number is needed though that account was due to be closed on June 30. That has changed and the board will be keeping its account. Rosemary called the IRS and got sent a letter as directed to advise that this account will not be closed.


Item A is no longer needed by consensus.

Item B is no longer needed by consensus.

C. Recommend that we postpone this for later discussion by consensus.


Board Member Resignation

Member Tina Venus had submitted her resignation prior to the meeting but had accepted Chair Audrey Lanier's invitation to come back for this meeting. It is my choice to rescind my resignation. Delighted that you have reconsidered. Consensus to allow her to remain on the board. She advised that she has decided to go back to Stepping Stones at the end of the year. Since she is appointed by the Board of Education, she may not have the option of staying after the new school year begins. She was told that she could apply for an empty seat in the future.

Vice Chair Gillian Appleton said that a board member was shut down earlier and not allowed to make a motion. She said that this is not a dictatorship and called on Member Joy Walker to allow her motion for the Chair's resignation. Joy said that she was not comfortable raising this motion without the chair being there. Consensus that this be put on the agenda for the next meeting, and if it is not placed on the agenda by the chair, to point out that it be put on the agenda.

Motion to adjourn. 2nd. 6:43 p.m.

Secretary Rhonda Morgan sent an email on May 9, 2019 to all members of the library board, Library Manager Rosemary Bunn, and FRRLS Director Natalie Marshall with a carbon copy to CM Bobby Bickley, Pike County Times, and her husband that she was resigning effective immediately. "The reason for my resignation is because the board took intentional steps, in the board meeting tonight to inflict embarrassment on the board chairman. Five Board members and the Library Manager purposed the intention to inflict embarrassment on the chair personally." She said that the presentation by Mr. Bunn was "out of order; was attacking; bordered on slander; and should never had been allowed." She said that she believed this was a "calculated and intentional act to inflict embarrassment on the chair" and called this incident about the call to the Friends of the Library a "personal vendetta" and said that it was not an issue for the board. She then criticized the newest member for being a part of the motion to ask for the chair's resignation because it was her first meeting and she had never attended a board meeting there before. She accused the new member of having "been programmed ahead of time on what to say, what to think, and how to vote." She ended by saying that this incident and other events of the evening helped her to realize the "corruption of the library board."

[Note from the Editor: If I were going onto a board, I would study up how the board works and what it has done in the past. I would read old minutes, talk to members on a one on one basis, and if I knew that there were write ups from a local newspaper editor who had attended meetings for the past 7 months online, I'd read those too. There is nothing wrong with being prepared for what is going on and even making a judgement call after the things that were said by the FRRLS Director. Natalie laid out her arguments quite well and it would have dovetailed with anything that could have been read on Pike County Times and in the minutes of the past meetings.

I do want to say a public thank you to Rhonda for typing up the draft minutes for this meeting even though she had resigned from the board. I can imagine how much time it took because it took me several hours to pull this together--and my write up is not the official minutes!

As of June 11, 2019, Audrey Lanier has not submitted a recent resignation to the J. Joel Edward Library Board of Trustees. (She gave and then rescinded a verbal resignation in December.) Board members can ask that Joy's discussion be added to the next agenda as was agreed upon by consensus at the end of this meeting, and they can vote on asking the board chair to step down from that position. This would place the vice chair step into that position until a formal vote could be held on this. In all actuality, the board already has to vote on a new secretary because someone has to take the minutes for the meetings. (And their minutes don't have to be long-winded like mine. Rhonda has done a really good job with the minutes of late, and hers would be good for the new secretary to follow as a pattern.

In closing, I sincerely hope that things are going to settle down for this board shortly so members can follow library board bylaws as well as county and state regulations and work together to get things done. The library board, according to its own bylaws, exists in order to support the library and the library manager. I have seen some actions of late and wonder how in the world those actions were supposed to be supportive of the library and library manager. We'll see as I prepare to go to month number eight of library board meetings on Thursday. I applaud those who are truly there to support the library and the library manager and work together as a group to make our library the best that it can be. Making these purchases is going to go a long way toward doing that for our community! I was excited to see the board working together for a common cause!]

To read about the November 8, 2018 meeting, click here.

To read about the December 13, 2018 meeting, click here.

To read about the January 10, 2019 meeting, click here.

To read about the February 14, 2019 meeting, click here.

To read about the March 1, 2019, 2019 meeting, click here.

To read about the April 11, 2019, 2019 meeting, click here.