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Settlement with town closes career of Hadley librarian

HADLEY — After a dozen years of service, Jane Babcock will retire Aug. 31 as director of the Goodwin Memorial Library, according to the trustees.

The announcement came late Wednesday night after the Select Board met in executive session to discuss strategy in preparation for negotiations with Babcock, who has been on paid leave since May. Babcock, 66, of Amherst, will remain on leave until her retirement date, according to trustees.

The Gazette on Thursday requested a copy of a settlement agreement between Babcock and the library trustees which the Select Board approved Wednesday. The town had not responded to that request at the end of Thursday afternoon.

“We came to an agreement with” Babcock, Select Board member John Waskiewicz told the Gazette.

Hadley town officials and library trustees have declined to explain why Babcock has been on leave. Babcock on Tuesday referred comment to her Springfield attorney, Nathan A. Olin, who has not returned phone calls. A Gazette review of the minutes of trustees meetings suggests personnel conflicts among staff members at the library may be one reason for Babcock’s retirement.

In a statement released Wednesday night, the trustees credited Babcock with advancements at the Goodwin Memorial Library where she began working as a volunteer in 2002. She was named part-time director in November 2004. The post later became full-time and paid Babcock a $64,708 salary last year, according to town records.

Since 2002, Babcock applied her expertise in business and “customer service to help Hadley’s library evolve over the next decade from a stand-alone library to a welcoming, lively, information center offering inviting materials, friendly, professional support, and 21st-century library services,” trustees said in their statement. “Jane is pleased to have served the residents of Hadley during this time and is grateful to all those who have supported the library’s extraordinary growth.”

The Goodwin Memorial Library at 50 Middle St. is in the midst of several planned upgrades and library service improvements, including renovations to its first floor, a new custom-built circulation desk and stair improvements, among others.

Trustees say they plan to name an acting director in the near future before beginning a search for a new, permanent director.

“The trustees need to make that decision fairly soon,” said Caryn Perley, co-chairwoman of the library trustees, about naming an interim director.

In addition to the director, the library employs one full-time and two part-time employees. The trio has been running the library in Babcock’s absence with the help of trustees, Perley said.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.

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