Library News

Library Head Docked $27G

Thursday, November 17th 2005, 7:21AM

THE EXECUTIVE director of the Brooklyn Public Library must return $27,000 in pay for taking more than six weeks of vacation not allowed in her contract, the Daily News has learned.

A routine audit found an "unusually large negative balance" of annual leave for head librarian Ginnie Cooper, according to documents obtained by The News.

Since taking over Brooklyn's public libraries in January 2003, Cooper had 33.6 days off beyond what library rules allow, sources who attended a Board of Trustees meeting this week said.

Cooper, former head of the Portland, Ore., library system, earns about $200,000 a year in a five-year contract.

The discovery angered some board members, especially at a time when budget restraints have reduced hours at Brooklyn's 60 branch libraries.

"I'm just furious about the whole thing," said Mable Robertson, a retired school principal and board secretary.

Even before the discovery, Cooper's relationship with some members of the board - a nonsalaried group that governs the library - had been strained, another member said.

"Some of us believe she's reduced the role of the board," said the trustee, who didn't want his name printed.

Another top-ranked board member suggested the library's restrictive vacation policy was partly to blame, because it doesn't allow employees time off during their first year.

While library executives are considering changing the policy, Cooper must now have her vacation time approved in advance, and her time sheets must be signed by the board president.

"If [Cooper] had a problem with the policy, she should have told the board, not just willy-nilly decided she would take days far beyond what she should have taken," Robertson said. "It's absolutely ridiculous."

Cooper declined comment.

A library spokesman confirmed in a statement that Cooper "used leave time in excess of the amount in her leave bank."

The vacation flap comes at an awkward time for the library - tonight is its Ninth Annual Gala, a $5,000-per-table fund-raiser at the Grand Army Plaza library that will be hosted by Cooper.

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