Anchorage

New head librarian declines to take job at embattled Anchorage library

The Municipality of Anchorage was supposed to have a new head librarian taking over the public library system. But the candidate for the role nominated in April by Mayor Dave Bronson, Robert Hudson, has chosen not to take the job.

“Mr. Hudson failed to accept the MOA’s final offer of employment,” Bronson spokesman Corey Allen Young said Thursday. “Mr. Hudson verbally accepted the offer, we planned for his arrival, and unfortunately, he ultimately chose not to take the position within the last few days.”

Anchorage’s public libraries have been a political flashpoint under the Bronson administration, which twice nominated library directors who did not meet the position’s minimum job qualifications to helm the system. The Anchorage Assembly voted against confirming the first library director nominee, Sami Graham, who later served as Bronson’s chief of staff. The second nominee, Judy Norton Eledge, withdrew her name from consideration.

Eledge, a conservative activist, is now running the library as deputy director in the absence of a permanent executive, and current and former library workers have criticized her conduct during her tenure managing the library system.

[Bronson-appointed Anchorage library manager accused of racist remarks and fostering a hostile work environment]

Hudson’s selection was announced through a press release in April, though it was unclear at the time when he was slated to begin work or undergo Assembly confirmation.

In his announcement heralding Hudson’s selection in the spring, Bronson held up his job experience in law libraries and overseas.

“Mr. Hudson indicated he would need the extra time as he was moving to the U.S. from Canada when he initially accepted the job. Unfortunately, he changed his mind and did not ultimately take the position,” Young said Thursday. “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Multiple attempts to reach Hudson were unsuccessful.

“I am surprised and, I’ll admit, a bit puzzled,” said Assembly member Daniel Volland.

“I was looking forward to meeting Mr. Hudson and going through the confirmation process,” Volland said. “We need a qualified leader with real experience at the helm. Until that happens, I worry that both employee and community frustration will grow. I would hate to see the library lose more staff and have to curtail services further.”

Assembly member Christopher Constant said, “Morale is at an all time low. People have left. People are afraid to talk. There’s a lawsuit,” referring to legal action taken against the city’s head of human resources stemming from an incident at a Library Advisory Board meeting.

Constant said that the administration had not provided him or other members of the Assembly with any official offer letter sent to Hudson, even though the position was held for him for more than three months while the library was under interim leadership.

“They have never communicated anything about this guy to us,” Constant said. “At a certain point in time enough incompetence piles up that it becomes the intent.”

Young said the administration had “interviewed numerous candidates from across the country and internationally,” and will repost the position.

[Still lacking a director, Anchorage Public Library draws scrutiny over board discussion of ‘inappropriate literature’]

Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers the military, politics, drugs, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. Prior to joining the paper he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.

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