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$1 million librarian
Public library trustees hire new director
(Published May 29, 2006)

Staff Writer

D.C. officials have agreed to pay more than $1 million over the next five years to Ginnie Cooper to become executive director of the D.C. Public Library.

Cooper, who was awarded the job May 18 in a unanimous vote during a special meeting of the D.C. Board of Library Trustees, has resigned her current position at the helm of the nation's fifth largest library system in Brooklyn, N.Y., to take over the District's much-smaller system this summer. Brooklyn's 60-library system serves a population of 3 million, while the District's 27-library system serves about 570,000 residents.

Cooper was reportedly paid $200,000 per year under a five-year contract with the Brooklyn Public Library, which she is leaving 18 months before her contract expires. She recently came under fire for taking an unauthorized vacation, for which she gave back $27,000 in pay, and for closing a library when a librarian received a minor injury, according to published reports in New York.

Cooper's contract as D.C. library director will pay her a basic rate of $179,946 per year, plus a "retention incentive" of $25,054. D.C. personnel regulations define a retention incentive as "an authorized amount or rate of additional compensation paid to an employee who occupies a position determined by the personnel authority to have a significant recruitment and retention problem," according to D.C. Public Library spokeswoman Monica Lewis. The retention incentive "is approved annually," Lewis said.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ current annual salary is $152,000.

As interim director of the D.C. Public Library system, Francis Buckley's salary is $138,159 per year. Buckley, the former superintendent of documents at the Government Printing Office, was hired temporarily while a national search was conducted to replace Molly Raphael. He is not expected to remain employed by the library system after Cooper takes over the director's position.

Raphael, who was paid $121,000 per year as D.C. Public Library director, publicly acknowledged frustration and left in 2003 after 33 years serving the D.C. library system. Ironically, Raphael is now director of the Multnomah County Library in Oregon, where she replaced Cooper at the helm after Cooper took the Brooklyn job.

"Ginnie Cooper's experience in leading large urban libraries and in rebuilding library systems -- their buildings, programs and services -- is what will be needed to turn DCPL into a world-class, 21st century library," said John Hill, D.C. library board president, in a written statement issued today.

Cooper is leaving her current job in the midst of a major renovation of Brooklyn's Central Library, which is expected to be completed in 2007.

Copyright 2006 The Common Denominator