Riverhead Free Library interim director Kathy Richter following her appointment April 1. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead library’s interim director Kathy Richter, hired in April after the abrupt departure of library director Joy Rankin, has resigned the position.

Richter, who served as director from 1992 to 1996, is a librarian in the Greenport school district and accepted a summer school assignment there, Riverhead Free Library president Kathy Berezny said this morning.

In April, Berezny said Richter, who was hired as interim director at an hourly rate of $75, would work evenings until the end of the school year, at which point she would expand her work hours.

Richter was appointed as summer school librarian by the Greenport school board at their meeting last Tuesday. She did not return a message left at her home this morning seeking comment for this story.

The assistant interim director named by Richter, Kerrie McMullen-Smith, has taken over as interim, Berezny said. McMullen-Smith is a librarian who has worked in the Riverhead library’s reference department for about a decade, Berezny said.

Meanwhile, the library trustees continue their search for a permanent director and will be accepting resumes through June 30.

“We have received quite a few,” Berezny said in a phone interview. “All resumes will be distributed to the board and then we will start interviews.” She said the position was advertised on websites and in publications for professional librarians as well as monster.com.

Rankin quit the director post in March, after two-and-a-half years on the job. The resignation came after the trustees voted not to renew her contract, which was to expire Aug. 3. The library agreed to pay the outgoing director through the end of her contract term.

Rankin’s resignation came on the heels the resignations of four members of the library’s seven-member board of trustees, including the board president, since the first of the year. In interviews and emails, former trustees described months of controversy and infighting on the board. One ex-board member accused the remaining members of the board of racism and bigotry in their treatment of Rankin, the first African-American director in the library’s history.

Berezny adamantly denied the charge. “We are not that kind of people,” Berezny told RiverheadLOCAL in March. “We amicably parted. We love Joy and we wish her well. We are just going in a different direction. There’s no controversy. There’s no scandal here. She’s going off to do other things.”

Support local journalism.
Now more than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community faces unprecedented economic disruption, and the future of many small businesses are under threat, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family-owned operation, and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever before, we will depend on your support to continue. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You rely on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.