Library Director resigning pushed back, Miller new board president

President Rebecca Miller and Vice President Weihua Yan take notes at the Great Neck Library's reorganizational meeting. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
President Rebecca Miller and Vice President Weihua Yan take notes at the Great Neck Library's reorganizational meeting. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Great Neck’s library board delayed the formal acceptance of Library Director Denise Corcoran’s resignation and the appointment of an interim director at a reorganizational board meeting Tuesday night.

The action pushed the matter to a future meeting.

Corcoran declined to comment and recommended speaking with newly inaugurated  board President Rebecca Miller, who said the board plans to act quickly and is taking the matter seriously. She also did not comment on the reason for the resignation.

Marietta DiCamillo, a former trustee and board president attending the meeting, asked if it was “really just pro forma for the board to accept the resignation publicly.”

“From the standpoint of acceptance, it’s formality. It’s fait accompli,” DiCamillo said.  “So I didn’t understand why the board wouldn’t just vote on it.”

Peter Fishbein, the attorney for the library board, said, “There were a number of questions that occurred from some board members and they’d like to get answers to those before they act on all that.”

“Mysterious,” said Naomi Penner, a frequent attendee at library board meetings.

“This board just sat, remember,” Miller said, to which Trustee Josie Pizer added that those questions “will be dealt with.”

Rebecca Rosenblatt Gilliar, a member of the 2017 director search committee that selected Corcoran, said after the meeting that Corcoran had “brought the promise of better times” and “worked tirelessly to undo the damage of recent years,” namely the “massive discard” of books following the Main Library renovation.

“She moved the library forward technologically. She valued the library staff and treated it as a team,” Gilliar said. “But in the end she could not overcome the entrenched obstacles. Her decision to resign is too bad for Great Neck.”

Including Corcoran, there have been three hired directors and three interim directors at the Great Neck Library since 2009.

In reorganizational business, trustees voted 4-2 to name Weihua Yan vice president over Barry Smith, who was then selected to be secretary. Scott Sontag abstained from the vote. Pizer was appointed treasurer.

The new board consists of Miller, Pizer, Yan, Smith, Chelsea Sassouni, Liman Mimi Hu, and Sontag.

Sontag defeated Robert Schaufeld, the board president, last year, while Hu beat back a write-in challenge and Sassouni, who was appointed to fill a vacancy last year, won a contested race against David Zielenziger.

Yan and Smith were elected in 2017 and took their seats in 2018, while Miller, who previously served as vice president, was elected in 2016 and began serving in 2017.

Pizer served two four-year terms before being appointed to fill a vacancy in 2017 – meaning she has spent more time on the board than all other members combined.

Schaufeld and Joel Marcus, who had declined to seek re-election, were presented commendations for their service. Outgoing Nominating Committee members DiCamillo, Howard Esterces and Donald Panetta also received commendations for their library service.

Board trustees also adopted a schedule of trustees meetings for 2019, with the last to take place on Dec. 17 at the Main Library and a reorganizational meeting to take place on Jan. 7, 2020, and discussed committees but took no action.

The next meeting will take place on Feb. 26 at the Main Library, with budget workshops to be held in March.

About the author

Janelle Clausen

Janelle Clausen is a reporter with Blank Slate Media covering the Great Neck peninsula and Town of North Hempstead. She previously freelanced for the Amityville Record, Massapequa Post and the Babylon Beacon. When not reporting, the south shore native can...
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