Municipal Manager Amy Demboski has once again shown her power-hungry nature, wresting control of the Anchorage Public Library (APL) and shutting down communications between employees of the library and the Anchorage Assembly.
On September 24, 2021, Demboski issued a memo directing all communications from the Administration to the Assembly, Assembly Aides, Assembly staff, the Clerk, the Clerk’s office staff, or Assembly Council would come “solely” from Demboski.
In a clarifying memo issued by Demboski on October 4, she stated that the original memo was not intended to apply to routine communications to and from the Legislative Branch.
A little over three months later, the power-hungry Demboski took over control of the Anchorage Public Library system. Demboski announced via a January 12 email to unqualified deputy director Judy Eledge that with the powers granted to her by the Anchorage Municipal Charter, and presumably with the consent of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, she was “stepping in” to administer the responsibilities of the Director of the Library until the Bronson Administration completes its “worldwide search” and hires a new director.
Noteworthy is that Demboski, like Bronson’s first two nominees, is unqualified to serve as the library’s director.
Emails between APL Deputy Director Eledge and Municipal Manager Amy Demboski, obtained by The Blue Alaskan, appear to demonstrate that Demboski’s exerting control of the APL served as nothing more than a mechanism to eliminate what Demboski believes are backdoor conversations between the Anchorage Assembly and the Anchorage Public Library staff and also to shield Eledge from further Assembly scrutiny.
On February 9, Legislative Liaison Clare Ross, a former APL employee now working for the Anchorage Assembly, responded to an email from APL Adult Services Coordinator Stacia McGourty who had recommended that the library be included in an upcoming Assembly orientation scheduled for April.
According to the email, the goal of the endeavor would be to make the Assembly aware of the resources available at the library and to provide an understanding of the resources available to the library’s patrons.
Ross, who copied APL Deputy Director Eledge on the email, wrote that the suggestion sounded good to her, asked how long such a session might last and indicated that she would “definitely plan” to include a library tour as part of the orientation.
Eledge then forwarded the email chain to Demboski on February 9 at 5:17pm.
Today, February 10, Demboski responded to Eledge, who then incredibly, forwarded the entire email chain to all employees of the library. In her email, Demboski provided the memos she had sent to departments last September and October.
“I want to be clear,” Demboski wrote, “the exchange that I see below between the Executive Branch staff and Legislative Branch staff is counter to my direction on communication process between the branches of government. The purpose of the memo is to ensure I am aware of items of inquiry between both branches of government, so my office may ensure the administration is responsive the legislative branch, and municipal staff time is allocated properly to ensure we accomplish our mission; I cannot do that if my office is circumvented.”
According to multiple employees of the APL, Laura Baldwin, a nearly 15 year employee of the library who has served continually as the library’s Collection Management Services Coordinator, submitted her resignation today. Baldwin’s last day with the APL is said to be in March.
Employees of the APL say that Baldwin has not shared the reason for her sudden departure but indicated it may have to do with what some employees have described as an increasingly toxic atmosphere at the library. Baldwin could not immediately be reached for comment about her resignation.
One APL employee said last month that they were tired of being bullied by unqualified, unknowledgeable people who only believe their viewpoint is valid. Another said the atmosphere at the library is extremely tense. “Everyone is constantly walking on eggshells or waiting for the next shoe to drop,” said the employee.
Anchorage resident Lily Spiroski, who identifies as non-Binary, submitted their resignation from the Youth Advisory Commission (YAC) last month, writing that the current state of YAC provided too much of a “hostile and unwelcoming environment” for them to participate any further on the Commission.
Spiroski also said that a recent project put together by the YAC to limit what books youth are allowed to access was damaging.
“By starting a project to censor LGBTQIA+ authors in the library, they have made it an unsafe environment for Anchorage’s LGBTQIA+ youth,” Spiroski wrote in their resignation email.
Employees of the APL say they are concerned about going on the record with reporters from Alaska Public Media and the Anchorage Daily News who have approached them over media reports about the deteriorating atmosphere at the library.
After reading Demboski’s email sent to Judy Eledge today, it’s easy to understand why.