Dionne Mack-Harvin was thought to be doing a good job as head of the Brooklyn Public Library, and celebrated as the first African-American major library system head in New York. But last week she quit, a spokesperson saying she was “interested in exploring new opportunity in public service.”
The Daily News suggests Mack-Harvin may have been nudged toward the door by a downsizing incident, in which a firm hired to handle layoffs at the library let the Washington Post witness them in action, resulting in embarrassment for the employees and the Library.
Downsize experts The Five O’Clock Club has a keen eye for publicity; in fact, they’ve received coverage for their Brooklyn Public Library work in the Daily News.
In August they apparently cooperated with Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow on “The Art of Letting Employees Go,” which documented the company’s methods of giving employees a “departure with dignity.” The ousted library employees are identified only by Client Numbers and brief descriptions (“a woman in her early 30s with what appears to be tear stains on her blouse, a receptionist who just surrendered control of the restroom key”).
Nonetheless Mack-Harvin was obliged to apologize for it, claiming she had not authorized the coverage — but the Post’s ombudsman said library officials, including its human resources director, approved the reporter’s presence.
The News claims that this was “the latest indication” that Mack-Harvin was “in over her head” at the Library, though we’d never heard anything like that before now.