By Donna Furey | LB Indy
Two longtime staff members of the Laguna Beach branch of the county library system are no longer assigned to the local branch, including children’s librarian Rebecca Porter.
Library patrons were notified in an email sent by Porter last month. The timing is unfortunate as she was working on a new project cataloging stories written by kids for other kids to read, said a source who declined to be identified.
Porter’s departure coincides with the recent and somewhat abrupt retirement last month of Jim McCarty, the adult services librarian, who also organized an annual poetry contest at the branch.
The Orange County Community Resources department, which oversees the library system, cancelled the poetry contest when McCarty left, according to local resident Martha Lydick, of the Friends of the Library support group. After the Friends appealed to OCCR director Steve Frank, the contest was re-instated and the winners will be announced in July, Lydick said.
Loyal patrons started circulating a petition to protest Porter’s departure in recent days. More than 150 people had signed the online petition, according to Carol Benstock, a parent who has known Porter for nine years. “Given the importance of reading and the value of Miss Rebecca’s skills, her departure would be a significant loss to our young readers,” Benstock wrote in her appeal for signatures.
The children’s librarian from the San Clemente branch, Pamela Chesney-Algar, will take Porter’s place in Laguna while the San Clemente branch is closed for renovations. Porter has been assigned to the Ladera Ranch library in south Orange County, according to Jon Gilliom, Laguna Beach branch manager.
The Ladera Ranch library is located between two schools and thus has a large number of school-aged patrons. Porter was transferred by county librarian Helen Fried to the Ladera Ranch branch because of its needs and Porter’s skill, according to Lydick.
Assistant County Librarian Paula Bruce says that as county employees, librarians are assigned where they are needed. She also noted that no advance notice is needed when an employee choses to retire.