The Manhasset Public Library Director Maggie Gough is currently under investigation by the library’s board of trustees after an incident on Dec. 14 during a violin recital and dress rehearsal in the community room of the library. The incident came to light after an online petition was started by a group of parents that had children involved in the recital that accuses Gough of using racially-charged language. The petition has 811 signatures at the time of publication.
Multiple unnamed staff members of the Manhasset Public Library have also told the Manhasset Press that Gough has a history of using racial slurs in staff meetings and the use of the word “n*gger” on one occasion during a staff meeting several years ago. The staff members chose not to use their names in fear of retribution by Gough.
“She used it jokingly, but she was talking about some chocolates that used to be around and she said that they were called n*gger babies,” a staff member said. “She kept laughing about this and she used it several times. It was just so shocking to me that a supervisor would say that, even jokingly, in a meeting with staff.”
The current investigation is being conducted by the library’s board of trustees’ attorney Peter Fishbein and not an external entity. Fishbein is also the attorney that negotiates the collective bargaining agreement with the staff’s union on behalf of the board. Staff members are expected to be interviewed during the investigation, but several staff members say that they are “fearful” and “scared” of retribution by Gough if they were to tell the truth to investigators.
Fishbein could not be reached for comment.
“We at the library are committed to serving the community in an inclusive way, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status,” President of the Manhasset Public Library Board of Directors Chuck Jettmar said. “There is an investigation underway, which was launched immediately after the incident was brought to the board’s attention, regarding the Dec. 14 incident and we hope to share those findings, when they soon become available. If any library employees have issues with their jobs or managers, we encourage them to follow the proper procedures. If an employee has an issue, there are a number of avenues, including an internal complaint procedure and assistance by their union, that they could turn to for any assistance in bringing a complaint.”
A spokesperson for the board of trustees said that Maggie Gough was not available for comment.
“If you say something, the odds are that [Gough] won’t be forced into resigning, and then she would be here and coming down on those that would be telling the truth,” a staff member said.
“If [Gough] keeps her job then it could be quite miserable,” said another staff member. “Especially if any of the board shared with her who shared what and at least one of the board members is pretty friendly with her, possibly two, but one is definitely very friendly with her. I would not trust her to keep it confidential.”
Multiple staff members described a culture with “a lack of communication” from leadership. Gough has a CCTV monitor in her office that is connected to all the video cameras in the library and also has access to the feed from her phone and computer at home. She has told staff that she is obsessed with looking at the video feed. One staff member states that Gough never comes out of her office, but describes her as a “control freak.”
“She has made comments about what is going on that makes it pretty clear that she is looking at the camera because there is no other way she would know,” said a staff member.
One of the teachers that was present at the Dec. 14 incident, Roslyn Huang, was interviewed by the board’s attorney as part of the investigation on Friday, Jan. 3. Huang, a professional violinist and private instructor on the north shore, has had the Long Island Senior and Junior Camerata recital in the community room of the Manhasset Public Library for the last 10 years. Huang’s mother owns the Pearl East Restaurant in Manhasset and caters the event that is held every December and January.
According to Huang, Gough came down to the community room on two occasions.
“An elderly woman came in accompanied by some of the staff members of the custodial staff and she started gesturing angrily,” Huang said about the first time Gough came down, she also did not know who Gough was at the time. “It was distracting enough that the kids actually stopped playing.”
While Gough did eventually leave, Huang says Gough came down a second time. This time Gough was approached by David Gale, one of the co-teachers, so that the kids would not be distracted. Eventually, Huang also went to speak with Gough.
“After the senior camerata was done tuning and they were about to play their first piece, I heard a loud conversation,” Huang said. “I went outside and I introduced myself to her. Her reaction was that we broke the rules of the contract.”
Pearl East catered fruit, mini pastries, dim sum and sushi for the event, and Huang states that this is why Gough got angry, because it was not finger food.
“In our culture, it’s considered finger food,” Huang said.
In a statement released by Gough on the library’s website she stated, “Over a year ago, after having to replace the community room carpet, where exercise and meditation programs encourage children and adults to sit, lie and move on the floor, the MPL Board of Trustees voted to amend the policy to allow only ‘light refreshments’ (which we informally describe as finger foods such as cookies or crudité) and to require an advance deposit against damage for all groups serving liquids and/or food in the community room.”
In the contract that was signed by Huang’s mother with the library it states that “a small kitchen is available to prepare light refreshments,” but says nothing about finger food. The contract also states that a $250 deposit must be submitted to the library if there is any food other than cookies served. This deposit was made by Huang and she received her deposit back.
In the petition at www.change.org/p/manhasset-taxpayers-eradicate-racism-from-the-manhasset-public-library that was created by one of the parents of the kids in the Long Island Camerata, Sanjay Kantu, states that Gough came into the room and used “highly inflammatory and racist comments.” The petition quotes Gough as saying “are you sure they are all from Manhasset? They are all foreigners,” and said she “has to protect the community from your disgusting mess” while referring to the Chinese food catered.
“She has been harassing me for two to three years now,” Huang said, who had no part in setting up the petition. “The only thing that she said that was demeaning was that ‘on Monday morning, yoga people have to come into the library and put their mats on your rice.’”
In her statement Gough says, “On Saturday afternoon, Dec. 14, I responded to an urgent request to come to the lower lobby during a scheduled music recital rehearsal. Prior to that request, I had not spoken with anyone associated with the recital or anyone making arrangements for the recital to use library space. Earlier that afternoon, I had spoken briefly with MPL staff regarding their specific activities and responsibilities. I still do not know what triggered the request, which became heated as soon as I introduced myself, with Ms. Huang and her male associate (who wouldn’t stop to give his name) shouting accusations at me in an unhinged manner for most of 10 minutes. Different versions of the exchange have appeared in the media and online. Horrendous, deeply hurtful and completely unfounded charges have been leveled against me.”
Huang says that Gough also came down last year in June during a recital and told Huang that she would not be getting her $250 deposit back after water was spilled on the carpet.
“I just want to be treated fairly,” Huang said. “Her restrictions on my organization are discriminatory for whatever reason.”
“[Gough] has been upset with this group for a while,” said a staff member. “She has made comments about the food, saying it was messy and smelly.”
In a joint statement, Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Councilmember Veronica Lurvey stated, “In North Hempstead we do not condone hate, racism or intolerance of any sort. It is important that we always remember the power of education and collaboration, which has the incredible potential of spreading understanding and fostering an increased sense of acceptance amongst the residents of North Hempstead and beyond.”
How did someone like Maggie Gough work as the director of Manhasset Public Library for over 8 years with her offensive behavior? There is clear resentment from the staff and the patrons alike. It’s intolerable that our library tax money is paying the salary of such a narrow-minded individual! If indeed she is found guilty as charged, she should be terminated ASAP. I have never voted for the Manhasset Public Library’s budget & elections before (incorrectly thinking that it was always in good hands), but from now on, I will and also keep an eye on those people who are responsible for maintaining our library as a pleasant place for people to work and to visit.
Seven years ago, I was asked to leave the board of the Friends Of The Manhasset Library because I complained about her homophobia. My fellow board members agreed she was homophobic but said that my role was to support the library, not to fight homophobia. The library board, at that time, defended Ms. Gough. They agreed to allow an openly gay author come in and read from his book, In A Queer Voice. But they also agreed to add important LGBTQ books to their shelves, which I do not believe they ever did.
There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior. Shame on her and what appears to be an equally racist Library Board, Charles Jettmar, Gloria Su, Judith Esterquest, William Hannon, and Donald O’Brien. These people are supposed to represent our community, not their own interests.
Leaders of our public schools and libraries, which are safe spaces for our children, should be people of high moral character and integrity which given Director Gough’s record of repeated racist and homophobic comments is not.
The Board runs an investigation with their own attorney and not an outside independent body. It is like a fox guarding the chicken coop! You can guess how this investigation is going to turn out. They spend our tax dollars on lawyers to defend her and a public relations firm to do damage control.
It seems she has only one interest and it is not our community but keeping her job for which she is grossly overpaid with our money. In the Library Board’s world it seems everybody including parents, students, and library staff are all liars, but Director Gough. She must be terminated from her position by the Board so that the library can be an inclusive place for all again.
These 2 ladies totally deserve each other. Maggie Gough sounds like a psychotic racist nut and Roslyn Huang is another psycho money-hungry disloyal freak who has hired an attorney to squeeze out a few bucks from the library that has been kind enough to host her stupid concerts for the last 20 years. I’ve known Roslyn Huang for long time and she was always very sneaky, underhanded, and conniving while playing the innocent good girl act. She’s full of it. Maggie Gough is a lunatic, but Roslyn Huang is no angel either – she’s just as crazy as Maggie. So grab the popcorn and enjoy this freak show. They should both be banned from the library. Maggie should lose her job and Roslyn should be banned from performing at the library ever again. Roslyn should go get a job at her mother’s restaurant if the violin playing isn’t paying her bills, as lawsuits are detrimental and unproductive to taxpayers.
Being there that Saturday, I was appalled by the library director’s behavior. My children have been students of Roslyns for many years and I have been going to the recitals at the Library for as many years as they have been students. The recitals have always been a cultured event and never out of control. As far as someone calling the concerts stupid, Loree you remind me of Maggie. Children learning to play violin these days to me are more than special and recitals like this support their efforts in sticking with the music. The music is acoustic, non-amplified so volume is not an issue. Also, the food is an added bonus and I have never seen the library left in bad condition. If the director had issues with Roslyn, there could’ve been a different approach in handling the situation and it should have never escalated to a screaming match in front of parents and students. As far as Roslyn, conniving? Money hungry? Unfortunately, in today’s society it is almost automatic to lawyer yourself up in every situation. I don’t believe she is money hungry, for what reason? I have never seen a conniving bone in her body and sneaky? It is plain and simple, Roslyn is teaching children to play violin, if you don’t like the way she teaches your child, you move onto another violin teacher.
Addressing Ed’s comment- I wasn’t defending Maggie. Do you have a reading comprehension problem? I said she sounds like a psychotic racist nut who should be fired. Did I ever say that Maggie wasn’t a problem? No. Clearly she is a problem- her problem seems to far exceed even the scope of basic racism as evidenced by staff members who find her to be a nightmare to work with. But make no mistake Roslyn is a problem too. Don’t try to attribute false reasons as to why I said Roslyn was conniving just because you’re in denial. Roslyn is and always was sneaky, disloyal, and shady. She’s not the worst person in the world, but she isn’t the sad little victim here either. Who says I have a child learning violin from her? Why would you make that assumption? You want to try to pass me off as some disgruntled parent so that you can disregard my accurate assessment of her. You have that selfish syndrome where you think that if someone didn’t do something to you personally, you think it didn’t happen and that it’s not real. Just because you don’t think Roslyn is conniving doesn’t mean she isn’t to others. Either you’re too blind to realize it or you’re in serious denial. You seem exactly like the type of argumentative person that would help trigger this type of ridiculous situation that is going on right now. This library violin fight is actually pretty comical. It’s the best entertainment that the North Shore has had in years. As I already stated- I am on no one’s side here. Both Maggie and Roslyn were in the wrong. And both will have to deal with the fallout unfortunately. They’re both annoying and unethical people who finally met their match in each other.
But in all fairness, I do agree with you on one thing- I shouldn’t have called Roslyn’s concerts stupid, so I take that back. That probably wasn’t the right word to use. What I really was trying to get at is that retaining a lawyer with the intention of gearing up for litigation against the a library that has been more than charitable towards her for the past 20 years is not really a nice thing to do at all. That in and of itself speaks volumes about her character. No, not everyone lawyers up these days. Maybe people like you and your cohorts do, but that’s not the standard course of action (especially not for silly stuff like this). Yeah, maybe Maggie offended her and she offended Maggie, but why unleash the lawyers? If she’s not welcome at the Manhasset Library anymore and she complained through the regular channels to no avail, then it’s time to pack it up and find another venue, not show up with a legal entourage.
All in all, both Maggie and Roslyn started this fight and they’re both going to have to finish it. May the worst woman win. Cheers. Clink. Refill my popcorn box, will ya?
The Manhasset Public Library has a major problem which the Library Board refuses to handle. The Library Director Margaret Gough is a serial racist, homophobe, and a nasty human being with a temperament not suited to be a leader. She has a track record of all of the above on many occasions in the past but the Board has turned a blind eye to her behavior. The latest was on Saturday, December 14, 2019. There were many dozens of students who performed at a musical concert recital.
Director Gough spoke loudly and used highly inflammatory and racist comments that were heard by many witnesses including the children and parents of our community, family members, and library staff. She made a variety of racially charged statements including calling Asians foreigners and demanding to know if they were from Manhasset.
Our library is supposed to be a safe space, especially for our children. Director Gough displayed a very disturbing side of racism in front of our children and their families. It has since come out that Director Gough has made racist comments against other minorities including African Americans and the LBGTQ community. This is unacceptable. Manhasset needs to stand against discrimination.
The Library Board members are called Trustees because we elect them to represent the community’s interests. Not only do they not do that but they do the opposite. This is an open and shut case with all the witnesses, especially given Director Gough’s long track record of racist, homophobic, and unprofessional behavior. Not only is she not being punished but rewarded. How has she even not been suspended during this investigation tells you all you need to know about this Board.
The Director and the Board think this community is stupid and they can wait us out and we will forget about all this. NO CHANCE! They have tried to make this about contracts, food and other stuff. NO, this is about Director Gough’s out of control behavior.
If she is not removed by the Library Board as Director you will know that they are as racist as the Director. A single unifying candidate will be run against each Board member until they are all removed. In addition, we will make sure every budget gets voted down. Maybe then the message will be clear that you represent us, the Manhasset community and not you own personal selfish interests.
Has there been an update on this? Looks like Maggie is still in her position without any consequences for her actions. I think the real teaching lesson and any good that can come of this is to show our students and community this will not be tolerated. For all this to be ignored and brushed under the rug by the board is truly heartbreaking.
Loree, you clearly seem to be missing the point here. This is about combating racism, which should NEVER be tolerated anywhere. These racist remarks occurred at a library recital where students were involved. Instead of being supportive, you’re throwing insulting, unfounded remarks about Roslyn – yet you won’t even say how you personally know her. Well, I am a teacher and music educator on LI, and completely disagree with your ridiculous comments about Roslyn. I have been to these library concerts, and have only ever heard positive, glowing remarks about Roslyn. Anyone who knows Roslyn will vouch for her dedication, loyalty, and commitment to her students.
These racist remarks happened at a recital where STUDENTS were present – it is our responsibility as adults to lead by example, and to show our children that fighting racism is the right thing to do. How petty of you to bring in your personal issues with Roslyn to this important matter, and to revel in the drama of this fight. Gough’s racist remarks were unacceptable, and Roslyn has every right to stand up for herself. Bottom line, Loree, is that your personal feelings about Roslyn should be disregarded because this is simply about fighting racism, and nothing else. Take your petty popcorn, your ignorance, and go get a life.
Jenna- “Get a life” is such a great comeback by a teacher/music educator. Is that from the 1980s, 1970s, or something? I hope you’re not actually employed by a school district because that would be a travesty. Your attitude is horrible as a teacher if you really are one. You’re free to disagree with my comments, but just as you find my comments to be “ridiculous”, I find yours to be even more absurd with your blind faith to Roslyn without even knowing all the facts. Why would I be supportive of anyone when most likely BOTH parties here are guilty? It takes two to tango! Don’t you know that?
Disloyal Roslyn will probably hoodwink you one day and then you’ll see the light and realize I was right. Seriously, for your own good, you should be cautious around her. She’s not trustworthy. Pay closer attention. Just telling you for your own good since you haven’t realized it yet. I didn’t miss any points here. There are always two sides to every story and the truth oftentimes lies somewhere in the middle. Once again, cheers! Let the worst woman win! Jenna, please get me some more popcorn, dear! Oh and have a nice day! xoxo
Loree, please find better use of your time than to continue with these insults. Makes me wonder why some random person seems obsessed with bringing Roslyn down? At least I personally know her and can vouch for her character. Have no idea who you are and why you are spending so much time trying to defame her. Why don’t you give us your “side” of the story. Your comments show that you are not a kind person – in fact, you seem to be a bully yourself. I sincerely hope that you are not a teacher or a parent. Maybe go see a therapist so you can get over Roslyn and move on with your sad life.
By the way, I think readers are now more entertained by your ridiculous comments than by this actual story. Cheers!
Jenna- I’m so glad you think readers are entertained by my comments, all of which are true. Thank you for the compliment. And now you’re copying some of my words and expressions too because you can’t come up with stuff on your own. Note that I never insulted you (because this is NOT about you and I couldn’t care less about you), but you went off on me with your childish diatribe and jumped down my throat. But that’s ok. I just wish you would not project your extreme misguided anger onto those who do not deserve it. Try to have a nice day. This stuff isn’t that deep and not worth a fight- at least not between you and me. Take deep breaths. It’ll all work out in the end.
Ok, I thought about it and it seems I ruffled some people’s feathers and I want to be fair and make it right. I just want to say that if anything I previously wrote hurt Maggie or Roslyn, I apologize. I should have kept my opinions to myself and not blasted either of them. I am sorry if anything I said hurt the feelings of the supporters of each of these two ladies as well, including a couple of the commenters above. I shouldn’t have poked fun at the testy situation and it was not the correct thing to do. Hopefully both of them will find an amicable way to resolve all this. I do have respect for Roslyn’s mother and her restaurant so I regret saying anything that disparaged her daughter. As for Maggie, I hope she gets the the fair due process hearing she deserves. May the two ladies reconcile their differences and put this situation behind them real soon. Peace.