BPL executive director resigns

One chapter is closing at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Last week, BPL’s Executive Director Dionne Mack-Havin announced her resignation after three years in the position.

According to a press release, the former central library director and chief of staff will hold her position until the end of June.

The resignation comes following a downsizing scandal at the library concerning its inclusion in a Washington Post profile of the Five O’Clock Club, a downsizing firm the library hired after its budget was cut by 5 percent last August. The article prominently featured the library and its dealings with the firm as it laid off 13 employees, including enough detail for friends and coworkers to identify those let go.

The article immediately prompted a written apology from Mack-Harvin to BPL staff, claiming that library officials were betrayed by the paper, according to the Daily News. The Post responded in a follow-up by its ombudsman that the paper did obtain permission from the library for access during its dealings with the downsizing firm, and the event was largely seen as an embarrassment for the library.

At a press conference Monday, Mack-Havin and a library spokesperson refused to elaborate on the sudden resignation. It is unclear who will replace Mack-Harvin come the end of June.

“Brooklyn Public Library and everyone who is a part of this great organization will always be close to my heart,” said Mack-Harvin in a press release announcing the resignation. “I am proud of the contributions that I’ve been able to make during my tenure and am truly grateful to BPL’s dedicated team of staff and thousands of loyal supporters.”

Mack-Harvin became the first African-American woman to head the library system after she started as a librarian at Crown Heights Library 14 years ago.

As the 11th director, Mack-Harvin helped organize and expand the system, which already has 60 libraries throughout the borough, circulating 17 million items last year, just four million more than the number of visitors in 2009.

While in the position, Mack-Harvin oversaw the completion of the $17 million Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture, forged an agreement with UPS to ship materials for intra-location shelf sorting and oversaw the re-opening of the Kings Highway Library, theborough’s highest circulating library. She also unleashed four book buses, including the first Spanish language mobile.

“Dionne has done a tremendous job at the library and has been a great partner of the Board,” said Anthony Crowell, chairman of the BPL board. “Her creativity, hard work, commitment to education, literacy and innovation, and her respect for and knowledge of Brooklyn’s diverse communities are inspiring. We wish Dionne well and she has all of our gratitude and support. ”

As executive director, Mack-Harvin received several awards, including Crain’s New York Business “40 Under 40,” the 2008 Friend of Literacy Award from the Brooklyn Reading Council, an appointments to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Taskforce for the Institute of Museum and Library Services Study of the Public Benefits of LSTA Library Grants to States.

“The library is an invaluable community resource and will continue to be a place for the people of Brooklyn to achieve their dreams,” said Mack-Harvin. “I know that Brooklyn Public Library will continue to do an outstanding job at serving the people of Brooklyn.”

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