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Head of Merriweather Library to stay

A week after dozens pleaded that the branch manager of the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library not be transferred to the Central Library, library officials decided last week that she will remain put.

Bridget Quinn-Carey, outgoing director of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, said that Sandra Bush will not be reassigned to work in the Grosvenor Room of the Central Library. The transfer had been planned to take advantage of Bush's expertise in genealogical research, to compensate for staff losses under County Executive Chris Collins' 2011 budget.

Upwards of 70 patrons of the Merriweather Library branch on Jefferson Avenue showed up for a meeting with Quinn-Carey on Jan. 5 to express their concerns about the proposed reassignment. Bush, who is African-American, is highly valued by the library's clientele, the majority of whom are black.

"We listened and heard, loud and clear, the concerns of the community," Quinn-Carey said Thursday.

Bush has been employed with the library system since 1985. As manager of the Merriweather branch, she is also the steward of the largest resource center of African and African-American history in Central and Western New York.

"We still have some staffing challenges throughout the [library] system that we'll have to address," Quinn-Carey said.

She said library officials will seek another way to have Bush share her time and expertise in genealogical research at the Central Library, but in a way that does not require her to be reassigned. Had the reassignment taken place, it would have been effective Feb. 2.

Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, who organized last week's meeting between Merriweather Library patrons and Quinn-Carey, said the advocacy of the library's patrons "really made all the difference."

"I think [Quinn-Carey] was really moved by the passion and eloquence of the people who spoke at that meeting," Grant said.

"I don't think Mrs. Quinn-Carey realized the connection [Bush] had to the community, that she is really an integral part of the community," Grant added.

Quinn-Carey last week announced that she will be resigning her post as director of the library system on March 4. She is leaving to become chief operating officer of Queens Library in New York City, a much larger system.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com