Wicomico County Public Libraries executive director stepping down, cites issues with County Council
WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. – The executive director of Wicomico County Public Libraries is stepping down. Ashley Teagle says the library system experienced a number of issues with County Council. Teagle says that the issues don’t just end with funding, which is the primary function of the relationship between county council and the library system. She says when it comes down to it, a lack of trust, transparency, and understanding of community needs led up to her decision to step down. “More so than a broken system, it’s a lack of trust. So that, to me, is something to work towards,” said Teagle.
At Tuesday’s County Council Meeting, Teagle outlined a number of issues from a lack of communication between the library system and council, to funding, to unawareness about minority issues. “All tax payers pay into including marginalized communities, including black people, and including LGBTQ+ people – all of these peoples’ interests need to be represented by the government,” said Teagle.
Councilmembers say that they were aware of issues with funding. But when it comes to the issue of representation for marginalized communities, that was news to them. Teagle also tells 47ABC that she feels that certain council members weren’t being honest about their support for the library system and didn’t trust her to carry out her duties. I never have an issue with people asking questions. We do get tax payer funding and I do feel very accountable in that way. But it can’t be one sided,” said Teagle.
Councilmember John Cannon says that Teagle’s resignation came as a surprise. But he agrees that Teagle made some valid points and that the county council should be something the library system can rely on when it comes to support. “I think Miss Teagle made a very good point as far as her concerns over individual council members that might be making too many phone calls or too many emails in regard to how she may have been doing her job,” said Councilmember Cannon.
Councilmember Joshua Hastings agrees. He says that he thinks in addition to strengthening the relationship between council and the library system, more funding is needed. “Our funding is inefficient. It definitely is insufficient, the amount of funding that goes from the county to the Wicomico Library system. We are the lowest in the entire state,” said Councilmember Hastings.
Teagle says that she doesn’t want her resignation to cause contention between the library system and county council. But she hopes that new leadership at the library and a renewed relationship with council will solve some of the problems she says caused her resignation. “I think that there are some things that have carried over as a pattern over several directors, and I think it’s time that we really need to think about how we’re going to address that,” said Teagle.
Teagle says that over the last few weeks at Wicomico Public Libraries, she’ll be focusing on finishing up the purchase of a new book mobile. Meanwhile she says that she hopes the library system and county council will get on a path to working together in a better way. Teagle says she’ll be starting a new position with the regional library soon.
Councilmember John Cannon tells 47ABC that the search for a new executive director is now in the hands of the library’s board of directors. They will find a candidate, who would have to be approved by Acting County Executive John Psota.