Library Aide Who Defended Perennial Reading-Contest Winner Is Fired
Remember Tyler Weaver, the 9-year-old who allegedly got on the bad side of a local librarian for being too dedicated a reader and reading 63 books to win a contest? Now the library aide who stood up for him reportedly has been fired without explanation.
Weaver of Hudson Falls, N.Y., had won the local public library's reading contest for years by reading dozens of books each time. The controversy last month arose when it was reported that the library's director, Marie Gandron, thought Weaver should retire from the contest and let someone else win.
Gandron allegedly suggested that the fifth-grader "hogs" the contest and planned to change rules mid-contest to pick winners at random so that she could deny Weaver his prize, according to a report in the Glens Falls Post-Star. His mother, Katie Weaver, said, "Tyler deserves an apology and an explanation as to why this is even an issue. You know, he read the most books. Say 'Congratulations!' like everybody else does."
Gandron eventually told WTEN-TV in Albany that she had been "misquoted" and "taken out of context."
Library aide Lita Casey also allegedly took exception to Gandron's plan and stood up for Weaver, according to an interview with the Post-Star, even though she thought there was a chance that she was putting her job into jeopardy. She called a member of the library's board to complain about the situation.
"My feeling is you work, you get it. That's just the way it is in anything. My granddaughter started working on track in grade school and ended up being a national champ. Should she have backed off and said, 'No, somebody else should win?' I told her (Gandron), but she said it's not a contest, it's the reading club and everybody should get a chance," Casey said.
Casey said some of the children read only the minimum of 10 books so they can receive an invitation to the [annual] party at the end of the program.
Last week came the news that, after 41 years, Gandron no longer worked at the library. Library board of trustees President Michael Herman confirmed the departure to the Post-Star, but wouldn't explain the cause, or whether the library's longtime director had left voluntarily or not. Then early this week, Casey was fired -- without explanation, she says. But Casey thought she had a pretty good idea why, she told the Post-Star, though she was still "stunned" to get a call from the board of trustees firing her:
"I asked why I was being terminated, and I was told the board would not give a reason. I asked if I could come down and talk to the board. [Herman] went away for a minute, came back and said no.
"I worked there for 28 years without a complaint," said Casey, who also taught nursery school for 42 years. "I have to believe it was related to the whole reading controversy."
According to the library's website, the 103-year-old institution receives the "major part of its funding" from the Village of Hudson Falls, the Town of Kingsbury, and the Hudson Falls School District. The board of trustees has nine members. Without Gandron and Casey, there are now four staff members to cover operations at the library six days a week.
Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman