In a sign of decreasing tension between the City of Omaha and its library system, the library director has been invited back to the mayor’s Cabinet-head meetings.
Last summer Mayor Jean Stothert told the then-interim director, Norma Pountney, that she was not needed at the weekly meetings. Stothert cited the fact that Library Board President Mike Meyer often told the mayor that the library is set up differently from other departments, with the director reporting to the appointed board rather than directly to the mayor.
This happened as tensions were escalating over the library’s budget, because Stothert hadn’t given the system as much money as Meyer sought.
The City Council approved Stothert’s budget. Tensions continued to run high until the end of the year, with some library officials saying branches would have to close a day each week under Stothert’s budget.
In December board members adopted a budget recommended to them by Laura Marlane, who had started as director on Sept. 28, and an employee from the Finance Department. That budget preserves most library hours.
Since then, tensions seem to have subsided.
Marlane said at the board’s February meeting that the invitation to the weekly Cabinet meetings has been helpful for her. “It’s been really great to connect with the other department heads,” she said.
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