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updated: 2/22/2012 9:13 AM

Cook Memorial library trustee resigns after sister hired

Cook Memorial official's sister hired as manager

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  • Mary Ann Phillips

    Mary Ann Phillips

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Veteran Cook Memorial Public Library District Trustee Mary Ann Phillips resigned Tuesday because her sister has been hired as a library employee.

Personnel rules for the Libertyville-based organization, which has libraries there and in Vernon Hills, restrict relatives of board members from working for the district, library Director Stephen Kershner said.

The rule prevents favoritism "or any impropriety," Kershner said.

So when Melissa Henderson, Phillips' sister, applied for the youth services manager job, Phillips knew she'd have to quit the board if Henderson wanted to take the job.

Henderson, now the head of the children's services department at the Glencoe Public Library, got the job. She starts March 5, Kershner said.

The hiring decision was administrative, Kershner said. The library board was not involved.

Phillips submitted a resignation letter Tuesday, Kershner said. It was effective after the board's meeting Tuesday night.

Phillips has been a Cook Memorial trustee since 2005. But her public activism for the library started a few years earlier, when she was among the residents in 2003 who criticized then-Trustee Jack L. Martin for removing copies of a weekly newspaper from the Libertyville library and throwing them in the trash because he didn't like a front-page headline.

Once on the board, Phillips was promptly named its vice president.

She helped move the panel from one of great political turmoil to one that sought compromise and peacefully found solutions to problems.

Most notably, the trustees created a $14 million plan that led to the renovation of the Libertyville library and the construction of the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills.

Phillips was re-elected in 2009.

In her resignation letter, Phillips said she is grateful for her time as a trustee, calling it "an amazing experience."

"It has been an extremely exciting seven years," she said.

The board will appoint someone to finish the term, which ends in spring 2013.

Although sad to see Phillips leave the board, Kershner said the staff is "pretty excited" to have Henderson coming aboard.

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