Following the seemingly abrupt resignation of Riverhead Free Library director Joy Rankin, the organization’s board of trustees has appointed Kathy Richter of East Marion as interim director.
During a special meeting Thursday evening, trustees voted 6-0 to both accept Ms. Rankin’s resignation and approve Ms. Richter’s appointment. Trustee John Munzel was absent.
“We parted amicably,” board of trustees president Kathy Berezny said of Ms. Rankin, confirming that she resigned Thursday. “She’s going on to do other things. There’s no controversy.”
Ms. Rankin, a Nassau County native who was hired as director in 2013, could not immediately be reached for comment. Her three-year contract with the library ends the first week of August and she will be paid her regular salary until that time, Ms. Berezny said.
When asked why Ms. Rankin would breach her contract four months early if the parting was amicable, Ms. Berezny said she had no comment.
“It’s a personnel issue,” she said.
The news site RiverheadLOCAL.com first reported the resignation.
Ms. Berezny, who was appointed president of the board of trustees in February, denied that Ms. Rankin’s resignation had anything to do with a 2014 lawsuit in which a former library employee accused Ms. Rankin of discriminating against her because she is white.
According to Ms. Berezny, that lawsuit is still in litigation but has so far been found to have “no probable cause,” she said.
Ms. Richter, a part-time librarian at Greenport High School, was formerly director at Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport. In 1985, she was named Riverhead Free Library’s AV and computer services librarian. She also served as the Riverhead library director in the 1990s.
In an interview Friday morning, Ms. Richter said she is “quite excited” about being named interim director.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “Its been almost 20 years since I left.”
Ms. Richter said she will work up to 35 hours a week at the library in addition to her current duties in Greenport. She’ll also consider applying for the role of director.
“I will certainly look at things as we go along,” she said. “My job right now is to work with the board to bring the library back to being the community center it has always been and assist them in their search for a new director.”
Photo Caption: Former director Joy Rankin at an event earlier this year. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)