Round Lake library board asked to rescind firing
Trustees refuse to make immediate decision
ROUND LAKE For the second straight night, a good chunk of this tiny village’s populace turned out to support fired librarian Theresa Marchione.
With more than 100 people in the village meeting room Tuesday, there were again calls for Marchione’s immediate reinstatement and for the ouster of Round Lake Library Director Carol Sheffer, who fired Marchione.
But the library’s Board of Trustees stood firm, saying it will take at least another week to investigate Marchione’s firing before making any decision.
Marchione was allegedly terminated for closing the village library early May 29, after a regional tornado warning had been issued. She closed the library and went home to take shelter at 7:20 p.m.; the library is normally open until 8.
Marchione is appealing the firing to the board, but didn’t start that process until the board asked her to submit a letter last Saturday.
“We will not comment because it is an ongoing investigation,” said Sandra Debus, president of the library trustees. “We are hoping to have it concluded within a week.”
The firing of Marchione, a village native and 24-year library employee, brought emotions to a boil among many of the village’s 600 residents over the past week. On Monday, more than 100 people turned out for a meeting of the Women’s Round Lake Improvement Society, the private, nonprofit group that owns the library. Only 19 people attending that meeting were eligible to vote under the organization’s bylaws, but they voted to ask the library board to reinstate Marchione and seek Sheffer’s resignation.
Letters seeking those actions were presented to the library board Tuesday, but Debus said they would be taken up as personnel matters during a closed-door executive session.
Sheffer, who sat in the audience Tuesday night, declined comment. Marchione has also declined to speak publicly about her firing, but her three adult children attended Tuesday’s meeting.
“She is overwhelmed at the support she has received, but she’s nervous. She doesn’t know what she can and can’t do,” said her daughter, Tracy Smith. “She doesn’t have a lawyer.”
“She’s very hurt by the matter. I don’t think she’d want to comment any more than that,” added her son, James.
Many residents believe closing the library early was an appropriate response to the tornado warning, which set off cellphone warnings across the region and caused the town of Malta to activate its emergency siren system.
There were thunderstorms throughout the area that night, a damaging tornado roared through Rotterdam and a smaller twister touched down in Vischer Ferry in Clifton Park.
“Theresa’s action to close the library was to protect herself, protect anyone who happened to be in the library,” said resident Lance Spallholz. “The board of trustees should have been there protecting Theresa.
“The anger I have, that other people had last night, is a matter of the board not acting to protect a well-known, well-loved member of this little village library.”
Susan Poran of Malta, who was in the audience, told the board she felt she was unjustly fired by Sheffer two years ago. She said she appealed in writing, but Debus said she couldn’t immediately recall the appeal.
The terminations of Poran and Marchione have been the only two firings at the library in the last two years, Debus said.
Debus said she expects to report any conclusions about personnel issues to a meeting of the improvement society’s board on June 20.
“WRLIS has made very clear to us they are the end game,” said Debus, who is also on that group’s board of directors.
Marchione is a sister-in-law of state Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon.