Carteret County terminates library director Mason citing job performance

Former Carteret County library director Lesley Mason poses for a portrait upon her being hired to the position in February 2020. County staff confirmed Friday she was fired Oct. 26 due to “unsatisfactory job performance.” (News-Times photo)

BEAUFORT — After a somewhat tumultuous first year for the independent Carteret County Public Library System, county staff has fired its director, Lesley Mason, over “unsatisfactory job performance” and is searching for someone new to take her place.

County manager Tommy Burns confirmed the recent termination in an email to the News-Times Friday.

“Ms. Mason was terminated from employment with the County on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 due to unsatisfactory job performance over a period of time,” he wrote.

Mr. Burns said a temporary library director has not been named, but he and assistant county manager Gene Foxworth are “ensuring the continuity of operations” until a new director is hired. He said the job opening has been posted and the county hopes to fill the position shortly.

Mr. Burns did not provide any other details of the circumstances around Ms. Mason’s firing.  

She took the helm as Carteret County library director in February 2020, just weeks before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In May of the year prior, the Carteret County Board of Commissioners decided to withdraw from the tri-county Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library Board, putting the responsibility on Ms. Mason to lead the transition from a regional system to an independent county one.

The transition sparked a controversy that hasn’t let up in the almost year-and-a-half since it became effective July 1, 2020, prompting a number of library staff to leave their positions and patrons to speak out about concerns. In July, several former library employees and patrons spoke during a County Board of Commissioners meeting to express concern over library management practices that had been put into effect under Ms. Mason, such as the culling of book collections and reorganizing of staff.

Ms. Mason defended the practice of book weeding, saying it is necessary to keep collections updated.  

Susan Wilder, president of the Friends of the Down East Library, said Friday she and other library friends were “relieved” to learn about Ms. Mason’s departure and were looking forward to bringing in a new face.

“I commend the county commissioners for responding to the significant public concerns about library management that have been raised since early 2020,” Ms. Wilder said in an emailed statement to the News-Times. “I look forward to moving ahead with a new director and hope our five Friends of the Library groups, all separate nonprofits, will thrive.

“I also hope for a strong pool of applicants and that library trustees are included in the hiring process,” she continued. “Above all, I hope our new library director will be an excellent people manager, and some one who will devote time to learning about the varied communities served by our five libraries.”

Ms. Mason was not immediately available for comment by the time of publication.

 

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

(10) comments

Marcuspa

I would love to be a librarian. I figured out in my third year of college that it was a great job, but it was too late to change majors. It’s difficult to understand how a person could be fired from that profession.

Lucy0806

I read a review written by her former employer and it definitely had red flags all over it. And...I am just a concerned Native of Carteret Co. When she started culling books and filling up the dumpster behind the Newport Library that was my first clue!

rgray

True. When I heard that quality reading books including history and research books were being vetted and thrown away in a dumpster and a big scheme plan was already in action by county and townships to consolidate library's, well thats when we have totally lost it. Its gone. No more public library, everything that means something, gone.

ITBEME

Glad to see there was finally some common sense shown but it's too little, a little too late. She should have been gone when she threw the first books out...and to pay her, if I'm not mistaken, $70,000. Man, she saw you guys coming!

pat w

I was not a fan of Ms. Mason. But publicizing details of her personnel matters in the newspapers and online media doesn't seem right. Yes, she discarded books and gutted the staff of the libraries. But she didn't do all this on her own without approval of the county manager and BOC. If the BOC did a better due diligence before hiring her they would have seen red flags from her previous employer. Hopefully, they will include some library trustees in the hiring process for her replacement.

Lucy0806

I totally agree with you also. This should never have happened in the first place.

Lucy0806

I totally agree with you.

carteretresident

You should thank your fearless county commissioners for making the uneducated decision to leave the regional library system. Books are bad business for your voters apparently!

Lucy0806

When we had the Carteret Craven Pamlico library you could go on line and find any book. Then if it was not at "your" library they would find it, bring it here and notify you when you could pick it up. I don't know if you can do that any more because I have not set foot in there since the change of command. I heard that the Volunteers were not kept but replaced....with paid employees??? I don't know that. We only live 2 blocks from the Newport Library and we miss the monthly book sale that was being done by the Friends of the Library. Everything before the "take over" by the County was working for people of the Newport Area. Why was it changed in the first place???? Big mistake!!!

CarteretResident95

I encourage you to go to the library before making all of these assumptions. You can go online and find a book and have it delivered to your branch. The advantage now is that instead of having only the branches included in the regional system, you now have hundreds of libraries from across the state to choose from. And the library will notify you via email, phone call, or text that your book is ready for pickup. Yes, all of the employees are new to the branch, but they are lovely friendly, smiley people who are more than happy to help you find the books or information you are looking for. As far as the book sale, the Newport Friends have moved locations. But, again, if you go to the library or even call, I am sure they can give you the information.

So, to sum up, stop ASSUMING all of these incorrect situations and GO to the library to see what has changed. I know that when I did go that first time, I found a CLEAN library, with FRIENDLY faces, an ENTIRE area of NEW books, and a Children's room that didn't overwhelm my kids so much that they WANTED to STAY for more than five minutes (and they found SO MANY books to check out!). Give them a chance!

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