Ex-Librarian Blames Miami-Dade Public Library Director for Budget Woes

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Photo by C.A.Mendieta / Wikimedia Commons
Like most librarians in Miami-Dade County, Julio Granda Jr. was worried about the financial future of his institution. Under County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the system had lost $30 million in funding over several years and, in the summer of 2013, was staring down an additional $20 million cut.

But when Granda confronted the man he held partly responsible for the library's woes -- longtime library director Raymond Santiago -- at a meeting, Granda says the director "went into a tirade" and remarked, as part of a heated monologue, that if he left "this organization is fucked."

See also: Why Libraries in Miami Are More Important Than Ever

Granda quit after he incident with Santiago, and commissioners ended up using emergency funds to cover the shortfall, averting disaster for the library. But with those funds set to expire in September and another crisis looming, Granda claims Santiago deserves a share of the blame. The director, he says, has mismanaged library finances, unwisely continued an overseas exchange partnership, and passed up lucrative fundraising opportunities.

"It was mismanagement over a lot of years," Granda says. "Once the funding went, it was very poor decision-making all the way around."

Santiago defends his tenure and also questions Granda's credibility. "You realize this is a low­-level employee you're getting information from," he tells Riptide.

The director, who earns $191,000 a year, signed off on two staffers' jetting to Milan in March for a cultural exchange. The airfare, as well as the Italian partners' upcoming stay in Miami, is paid for by grants and county programming funding, although Santiago couldn't provide a dollar amount for how much the library covered.

"I have a problem with that as a taxpayer," Granda says of the county's partial funding of the program, "if my child doesn't have a book and they're sending these people to Europe?!"

Granda also complains that Santiago ignored promising opportunities, such as a proposed revenue-­sharing deal between the library and a concessionaire company that would have brought food vendors to branches -- which Granda estimates would have generated more than $1 million for the county -- and a pro bono marketing offer. "How you pass that up -- for free?" the ex-employee exclaims. "In whose right mind?"

But Santiago, who says he hasn't had a raise in seven years and pays his own parking, defends the Italian exchange as an important piece of the library's cultural work. "We don't just lend books," he says. "There are all kinds of activities that go on here."

Santiago also denies he ignored marketing opportunities. The concessions agreement was thoroughly investigated before it was turned down, he says, and the pro bono offer never existed. The director also says that he doesn't remember that particular incident with Granda and that he certainly "didn't say the library system would be fucked..I would never say that. This library system doesn't depend on any one person."

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8 comments
DefenderofTruth
DefenderofTruth

Sad and true.

See the memos that verify the details.

Google: scribd julio granda

Click on Library Master Concessionaire Proposal

Click on Collections, then Library Marketing Pro Bono

Julio was an intelligent and savvy Manager of the Urban Affairs Department and had been the library's liaison to the County Commission until that Department was dismantled due to the budget cuts of 2011 when 250 staff were laid off.

Former County Manager Merrett Stierheim asked for his name and plaque to be removed from the wall of that department after Julio was transferred to be the Manager of Access Services - overseeing all circulation functions at the Main Library.

There's a reason that MDPLS did not win the Sterling Award back in the mid 2000s - this administration stopped listening to front line staff. It's been loyalty over competence as the administration has aged in place. Loyalty over competence parallels the County Mayor's office.

whatever305
whatever305

Not the whole story... totally out of context.  There were several dozen staff at that meeting who, if the writer of this blog even tried to verify his facts, would have gotten the whole story. This is also coming from an employee who 1. quit and moved on, 2. once he left many staff were much, MUCH happier, and 3. was completely inappropriate and offensive to staff on an almost daily basis.  
How he gets off throwing the director under the bus after wanting to be mentored by him and eventually be director himself...  well, Julio is just as corrupt as any other politician. 
Take this little blog post with a grain of salt... actually not even worth reading.

Carlos Franco
Carlos Franco

True, raymond is no different than the rest of the miami crooks. He made mistakes and want to be free of blame. He has his head up his ass with his circle of yes men.

Mary
Mary

You know the saying how knowledge is power. Well it is and if the library was more of a popular destination people cared and would be educated do you really think this would even be an issue? Nope. But no one cares people just choose to blame societal problems on the government instead of their lack of civic duty.

I'm not surprised mismanagement happened there isn't anyone keeping an eye on these people so it's safe to say they can get away with murder.

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

I am shocked.  Shocked I say


Mismanagement at a government agency?


Never happens!


$191K a year for a job that can be done by a inventory clerk.

barbogas
barbogas

A hearsay attack and a response? Where are the facts and reporting? The library's financial woes are a very real community issue, why not treat it as such?

LisaMartinez
LisaMartinez

@barbogas Written like tabloid journalism, and it wasn't researched or written well.  While it was poorly composed, unfortunately, it's true.   

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