The Baldwin County Commission is investigating the firing of the entire Baldwin County Library Cooperative (BCLC) staff.

The BCLC has an administrative and a finance division and operates the Book Mobile. However, the BCLB board voted on May 22 to terminate all employees.

Full-time positions were the library director/tech services, assistant library director/interlibrary loan coordinator, library technician/bookmobile assistant, and part-time positions were library financial administrator, courier driver and bookmobile driver.

"This was a complete surprise to us, and they had no communication with the commission about this whatsoever, commissioner Billie Jo Underwood told 1819 News. "We found out by an email from the director. The Commission has never withheld funding for any of this, and their actions were very rogue."

Although the board is in charge of hiring and firing, commissioners told 1819 News they weren’t sure if the move to terminate all staff was necessary. The Commission staff is investigating the circumstances surrounding the terminations and is working with member library directors to ensure continuous services.

“It’s important to note that the Baldwin County Commission has not taken any action to discontinue any support to the library cooperative,” the commission stated in a press release. “However, Commission staff is actively investigating the circumstances surrounding this decision. Most importantly, Commission staff is working with member library directors to mitigate the disruptions in joint library services.”

"The cooperative is not a library," Underwood added. "They are a support function. They have a card catalog and a courier service for member libraries."

The courier service is being reestablished at this time, commissioners said.

Controversy has surrounded some member libraries in Baldwin County over inappropriate materials offered in the children and teen sections. The Foley Public Library removed or moved some books that were challenged due to sexual content, and the Fairhope Library has heard from concerned citizens at public meetings.

After nearly a year of hearing from concerned citizens and Gov. Kay Ivey, the Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) approved rule changes earlier this month. The rules dictate what libraries must do to receive state funding. Those rules included keeping sexually explicit books out of the children's section.

Underwood said the issue did not come from recent law changes concerning inappropriate materials but rather an organizational issue.

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