Grovetown residents fight librarian's transfer to Evans

A group of Grovetown residents pleaded with Columbia County commissioners Tuesday to reverse the transfer of the former supervisor of the Euchee Creek Library.

But none of the commissioners made a motion to reconsider the transfer of John Welch.

Welch unwillingly accepted a transfer last month from the Grovetown library on Wrightsboro Road to the main county library in Evans. He started his new position as a reference specialist on Monday.

In her efforts to keep Welch in charge of the Euchee Creek branch, former co-worker and retired librarian Karen Gross gave commissioners a petition with about 300 signatures.

"We just really feel John is a good fit out there," she said.

County officials have said that Welch lacks the education to supervise the Euchee Creek Library, even though he has held that position since the library opened in 1994.

Because of growth in the Grovetown area, officials said that library needs someone with a master's degree in library science to prepare for the increased demand expected there. Welch has a bachelor's degree in history.

"It was thought a lot could be accomplished by putting one of those (a librarian with a master's degree) at Euchee Creek," said commission Chairman Ron Cross.

A change in county policy approved in 2008 requires that branch managers have a master's degree in library science, but supervisors only need a bachelor's degree. The Georgia Public Library Service requires only a high school diploma to supervise a library.

Officials also said Welch did a poor job of updating books at the Euchee Creek branch, dressed inappropriately and slept on the job.

During a Sept. 28 meeting between Euchee Creek Library patrons and commission Chairman Ron Cross, Welch defended himself against some of those accusations.

He said he and his staff started dressing better after he received a complaint from county Library Manager Mary-Lin Maner.

Though he once took naps during his lunch hour in a break room, Welch said he quit doing that, too, after Maner complained.

"I've yet to reconcile with that, regardless of the location and the application," Cross said of Welch's naps.

Cross and others have complained that those supervising Welch failed to document behavior they found unacceptable.

Cross said that likely was a benefit to Welch. Had his sleeping during work hours been documented beyond a performance evaluation, Cross said Welch likely would be facing termination rather than a transfer.

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