Library board authorizes investigation into diversity statement
With about 60 listeners, Library Board Trustees voted 3-2 to conduct a $30,000 investigation into the circumstances that led to the inclusion of #Black Lives Matter in a diversity statement.
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke in support of the library’s diversity statement.
“I believe that black lives do matter,” he said. “You don’t have to belong to an organization or even support it to believe that black lives matter.”
Ford said his office has received 70 complaints about Douglas County Sheriff Dan Coverley’s response to the statement and the Aug. 8 demonstration that featured 750-1,000 residents, mostly supporting the sheriff.
Board member Lisa Foley announced she was planning to resign from the board on Tuesday.
The Lake Tahoe resident argued against conducting the investigation.
“There is nothing to discover here,” she said during the debate. “Firing the library director will make us a national pariah and put us on the wrong side of history.”
Douglas County Human Relations Director Wendy Lang estimated the high end of the investigation would be $40,000.
The investigation would be to create a fact-finding report.
Lang talked to one investigator who estimated the cost is about $20-25,000.
“It’s difficult because you don’t know how much an investigation will cost, yet,” Lang said.
Deputy District Attorney Doug Ritchie said the investigation will look at how everything came about.
“When you have an outside party come in and look at complaints and say ‘This is what I discovered’ and then this board can determine what steps can take place.”
Board member Mark Jensen, who voted for the investigation, pointed out that the library has been discussing updating its bylaws.
“This might be a useful point to bring things up to date,” he said.
Trustee Bonnie Rodgers was concerned that taking no action to address the issue would harm the library in the long run.
“My concerns are that we’re able to directly answer any comment from our community,” she said. “Most of all it shows the library and the library board and staff has taken this seriously. The impression I get that people is that we didn’t do anything and don’t intend to do anything.”
Chairwoman Kathryn Garrahan said she was concerned that the library has lost public trust.
“If we don’t go through this, I don’t know if the library’s or the board’s reputation can survive this,” she said. “It is our responsibility to perpetuate the library for future generations.”