Chappaqua Library Director to Retire, Citing Differences With Board

Citing “philosophical differences” with some members of the Board of Trustees, Chappaqua Library Director Pamela Thornton has announced that she will retire from her post on Aug. 4, two years earlier than she had planned.

Thornton, 63, has been director of the Chappaqua Library since January 2007, but said that it was best for her to depart now since there has been a growing split between herself and some trustees during the past few years.

“When I was hired over 13 years ago, the board entrusted the mission of the library to me and the Library has thrived and continues to be a cornerstone in the Chappaqua community,” Thornton stated in her June 16 letter to the board. “But, over the past three years the dynamics of the board have changed and it has become increasingly difficult to comply with the wishes of specific board members which hamper or deter the work of the library.”

Reached last week, Thornton declined to elaborate on the differences she has had with board members.

Library Board Trustee Maggie Christ praised Thornton for her contributions to the library, calling her “a terrific director.” Thornton has been fiscally responsible, and has done a good job of moving the library forward.

“I’m sure that you have excellent reasons but I think it is a tremendous loss to the library and the town to have you leave at this time,” Christ said at the June 16 Library Board meeting. “You’ve been an amazing director. I think you’ve gotten incredibly good things done ad it is a huge loss to the community.”

She said that the board is beginning its search for a replacement by using the civil service list. If no one on the list is interested, the library can then conduct a broader search.

An interim director will probably be named because it is unlikely that a permanent replacement could be found between now and early August, Christ said.

Thornton, a longtime Ossining resident, has been a librarian since earning her master’s degree in 1980. She has worked in Westchester for the past 28 years. Prior to Chappaqua, Thornton served as director of the Somers Library for six years and in New Rochelle before that.

She said that she’s proud of the programming that the Chappaqua Library has been able to offer, including an impressive list of well-known authors who have conducted signings and talks.

Thornton also said it was great to see that the parking lot expansion project was able to be completed on her watch. That had been an issue since before her arrival in Chappaqua, she said.

Thornton did not dismiss the possibility of working again, but for now will take at least a little time to take a well-earned breather.

“I want to sit on my front porch,” Thornton said. “I have worked so hard all of these years. I bought a house eight years ago and I never go to spend time in it.”