Residents upset over library firing
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Jul 17, 2013 | 5914 views |  0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Breanna Wheeler works on a sign Martin Luther King Child Development Center in Anniston on Wednesday. Many residents are angry about the firing of the manager of the Carver Library Branch. Photo by Bill Wilson.
Breanna Wheeler works on a sign Martin Luther King Child Development Center in Anniston on Wednesday. Many residents are angry about the firing of the manager of the Carver Library Branch. Photo by Bill Wilson.
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Instead of joining in their routine of Thursday morning reading programs at the Carver Branch Library, a group of students will march with protest signs at the Public Library of Anniston and Calhoun County on 10th Street.

Children at Martin Luther King Jr. Child Development Center were busy making protest signs Wednesday that read “Give us our librarian back!!” — a reference to the termination last month of Elisha Thompson, the former manager of the Carver Branch Library.

Ralph Bradford, owner of the center, along with other daycare providers who frequent the Carver Branch, is planning the protest for 10 a.m. today.

Bradford said Thompson has been active in the community, including at his child care center.

“She’s been very good to us out there,” he said.

Thompson had been with the branch for seven years, taking over as manager in September 2011.

Teresa Ross, who runs Colorful Ministries Christian Preschool, said the community just wants to know what happened in their library.

“I just think we have been left to the dark,” she said. “We need her back; she has been a great mentor for us and our children.”

Library Director Teresa Kiser confirmed Thompson was terminated and that the library opened with an interim beginning June 28. According to Kiser, the summer reading program has continued at Carver.

“Everything is still going on as normal,” she said. She noted that one summer program slipped through the cracks on that first day without Thompson because no one realized it was scheduled.

Kiser would not discuss the reasons for Thompson’s firing.

Thompson, however, said she was told she was being fired for gross misconduct relating to claims of dishonesty on her timesheet. She said she was given no warnings about alleged misconduct and that when she tried to explain her hours to Kiser, she was unwilling to listen.

Thompson said her work for the library extended beyond the hours it was open, including preparing the library for the day as well as handling other business such as soliciting donations and visiting local daycares to encourage community involvement.

Attempts to reach Kiser Wednesday afternoon for more detail about the specifics of the termination process were unsuccessful.

Bradford said he does not intend to take his students back to the library until there is some resolution for the community. He said he felt like the Carver Branch Library — once the library for black residents during segregation — is particularly important to the children it served, who could see Thompson as a positive role model.

Kiser said the library advertised for the job opening and had received nearly 20 applications by the deadline of July 15. She said interviews with candidates will begin this week, but she doesn’t know how long it will be before a new branch manager is hired.

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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