All but one Culver library board members resign amid community backlash
CULVER, Ind.-- Outraged community members were ready to go after the board of trustees for the Culver-Union Township Public Library (CUTPL), demanding their removal or resignation after the firing of librarian Esmie Rodgers. However, before they could oust these board members at Monday night’s school board meeting, all but one resigned.
Scattered throughout Culver are “I’m with Esmie” yard signs, following the termination of the former youth services manager. Rodgers says her career at the library spans 16 years, and said being fired was a shock.
“Me, myself, I didn’t really expect that was going to happen because all my programming is doing well,” she said. “I’m doing everything right, my outreach is doing well, my summer reading program is well attended.”
Rodgers says she wasn’t given a specific reason why she was being fired, citing excuses from her boss like having an attitude or showing rude behavior. But Rodgers said prior to new leadership, she had never been written up before.
“She’s been kind of a pillar, the heart of the library for quite a few years,” Esmie’s husband, Brian Rodgers, said. “I think that was the most frustrating thing; it was just quiet at the other end. And there was really no explanation.”
Many in the Culver community simply wouldn’t stand for it.
A Facebook group called “Stand with Esmie” was set up with support flooding in.
“It’s overwhelming,” Rodgers said. “I cried for like, at least two weeks constantly reading all those comments.”
A petition to remove the library board president garnered hundreds of signatures.
“I knew it was going to be something that the library’s going to have a hard time explaining,” Brian Rodgers said.
And as some mobilized to try and oust the library board from power, all members but one resigned.
ABC57 obtained the resignation letters. In her letter, former board director Laura Jones wrote in part:
“Never in my life have I had such ugliness and hate aimed at me after making a necessary, justified decision.”
Former director Erin Lawrence wrote in part:
“A disgruntled former employee and a small group of agitators have engaged in a four-week campaign of false allegations and vitriol.” And later said: “CUTPL has been ‘cancelled’ by the community it serves.”
Now, it's left to the remaining board member, Karen Boland, to lead the charge to rebuild the board.
“We wish no ill will, you know? We’re happy it turned out the way it did, we’re thankful for this great little town,” Brian Rodgers said. “The library is up and running and it’s going forward and we’re excited about it. Really good future. And this town really came through.”