Sudden termination of beloved Culver librarian sparks calls for change

NOW: Sudden termination of beloved Culver librarian sparks calls for change

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ind. -- In a small town like Culver, Indiana with just over 1,000 residents, the local library is the heartbeat of the community.

When parents and children realized their favorite librarian was no longer there, it became the buzz of the town.

The librarian claims there's a much bigger issue behind it all.

“It’s become much more than Esmie’s job,” says her husband, Brian Rodgers. “It’s become, ‘Wow, there’s something going on here that’s not right.’”

The sudden termination has left Esmie Rodgers and the Culver community confused.

“She didn’t give me an explanation, she didn’t give me things to work on, all of a sudden I was terminated,” recalls Esmie Rodgers, former Youth Services Manager at Culver-Union Township Library.

For the past 16 years, Rodgers has served as the face of the Culver-Union Township Public Library.

Famous for her ‘Storytimes’ and nine weekly outreach programs, Rodgers was known for reading to students in local schools and youth clubs.

“Esmie had an outreach program to the elementary school, the middle school, the high school, and the preschools and those are all gone,” explains Brian Rodgers.

Esmie says the out-of-the-blue termination comes just a couple months after a new director took over operations at the library.

She claims she was told there was a ‘breach of duty’, something she says she doesn't understand with the amount of time and energy she's devoted into children’s programs at the library.

Despite the overwhelming feeling that comes with suddenly losing a job you love, Esmie has a seen an overwhelming amount of support.

“Kids that Esmie had 10, 12 years ago, are writing letters in support of her saying ‘Hey, we learned to read because of what Esmie was doing,’” Brian Rodgers says.

The library’s board of directors posted about the decision to remove Rodgers on Facebook last month, saying ‘all decisions made are with the library’s mission in mind – strive to be the community's forward-thinking hub for activity, access, and engagement.”

An online petition with now over 500 signatures calls for the resignation of the director that terminated Rodgers, as well as the assistant director of the library, and the president of the library board, claiming the lack of transparency with the firing is eroding public trust.

They say it’s about more than just Esmie losing her job, but children losing a friendly face to teach them the basics of reading.

“We’re just pushing forward and we’re just hoping that public outrage and public opinion is going to be the one that’s going to sway it,” explains Brian Rodgers.

The two library directors and library board president did not return requests for comment at the time this was published.

On Monday evening, the Culver Community Schools Corporation Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing regarding removing the board president from his position.

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