The head of the Loudoun County Library Board of Trustees has resigned hours after WTOP quoted his anger over the Board of Supervisors’ decision to use two of the Virginia county’s libraries as day care facilities for county employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chairman Denis Cotter confirmed his resignation to WTOP, but offered no details of why he stepped down.
Asked if Cotter’s departure was an act of retribution, Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall said no, and she was surprised to hear of his decision. “I wish he had not resigned. I would prefer he had not. I honestly wish he would reconsider,” Randall told WTOP.
On Monday, Cotter said the Board of Supervisors’ decision to provide seats for child care for 56 children of county employees at the Ashburn and Rust libraries — two of the county’s 10 branches — is depriving approximately 6,000 library customers per week of the services they receive in the two libraries. The libraries are providing curbside pickup.
In that interview, Cotter told WTOP, “The Library Board of Trustees and Library Administration were not informed or consulted during the development of the proposal.”
Randall said supervisors were briefed on the staff-developed plan to include the Rust and Ashburn libraries among county buildings being considered to be utilized as day cares, between Aug. 17 and 20. The board took a straw poll to accept the plan on Aug. 21.
Randall told WTOP she called Cotter the afternoon of Aug. 22 to discuss the plan with him. She acknowledged the plan to include libraries as day care facilities was presented to Cotter as a fait accompli.
“He said this is the first I’ve heard about it — I said you’re the first person to hear it after the board,” said Randall, in recounting the conversation with Cotter. “When we hung up, I thought we were in agreement, so I was surprised to hear he resigned.”
The buildings selected by the board as locations for day cares for county employees — which would likely cost between $382 and $694 per month — include 11 schools, three community centers and two recreation centers, in addition to the libraries.
“We added the libraries last. We really didn’t want to have to do that,” Randall said.
The goal was to find room for day cares in county-owned facilities, without having to rent or lease other available buildings.
Randall said the COVID-19 pandemic “has made this a really tough time,” requiring quick decisions, but repeated that the county continues to invest in libraries.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had a kerfuffle with the library. I think a resignation is unfortunate; it’s not helpful. People will now speculate,” Randall told WTOP. “And, I hope he’ll reconsider.”