Letter from President Buzzy Nielsen
You likely have seen State Librarian MaryKay Dahlgreen’s note to all of us on Libs-Or. If not, then I will be the bearer of her bad news: it is with great sorrow and confusion that I tell you that Governor Kate Brown’s office is dismissing State Librarian MaryKay Dahlgreen.
This decision came as just as much of a shock to OLA as I imagine that it comes to you. OLA was not consulted in this decision, nor were several other stakeholders served by the State Library. Even the State Library Board, the entity that was statutorily-created to advise the Governor’s Office on State Library matters, was not consulted.
Some background: a few years ago, legislation was adopted that moved the State Librarian position from being appointed directly by the State Library Board to being appointed by the Governor. At the time, OLA backed this measure because we felt that it would put the State Librarian position on par with other state executive department heads and provide an additional layer of accountability. Obviously, these recent events bring our previous support into question.
This February, MaryKay was scheduled for a reappointment hearing during the short legislative session. Her name was withdrawn the day of the hearing with no comment. OLA Legislative Committee Chair Abigail Elder and I had been working with OLA’s lobbyist, Amanda Dalton, to discover why. We assumed that the hearing was merely being delayed. We were wrong.
Needless to say, this decision is disturbing. OLA has expressed our displeasure to the Governor’s office. That letter that is attached [here]. We are working with our lobbyist Amanda Dalton and other officials gather more information about why this decision was made, immediate succession plans for the State Library, and how the Oregon library community will be involved in future decisions regarding the State Library and Librarian. I will share any further relevant information as it becomes available.
In the meanwhile, please spare some thoughts for MaryKay and the staff of the State Library. While MaryKay does not want for us to fight to get her job back, you are welcome to contact the Governor’s Office to express how you feel about MaryKay’s dismissal and how they made the decision. I encourage you to read the attached letter before doing so for background information. The Governor’s Office can be reached at 503-378-4582 or on this web page:
If you have any questions, I will try to answer them as best I can. Right now, I wish all of the support that we can give to the State Library staff and MaryKay.
OLA President, 2017-18