Since board chair Heidi Roedel declined to take any kind of record of the library board retreat on March 10, despite it being a public meeting and a recording was requested by a member of the public, I am happy to share with my fellow community members a few things that I heard at that eight-hour meeting.
The best part was listening to the senior librarians talk about some of their connections with patrons, and what it means to them to serve the public. It was heartwarming and impressive. These people are quiet community heroes who are making a difference every single day. The new director was in attendance, and it was great to see her and get to know her heart from the work of a public librarian.
The board members were then asked to describe how they use the library, and all replied except for Trustee Adams. Draw your own conclusions.
The bulk of the retreat was spent on policy discussions; collection development, fair treatment, internet use, finishing up the day with a discussion of art exhibits and book displays. As usual, the discussion was highjacked and dominated, once again, by Trustee Adams’ mental gymnastics as he tries to make policy to remove books he doesn’t like, but somehow make that action different from censorship. His desire is to remove the word censorship from library policies.
He also wants to remove any mention of the American Library Association from the library’s policies and website. He listed their “political stances” as his main objection. Here is a partial list of the objectional “political” stances that he sees as an issue: equal access to libraries and their services for groups such as African Americans, the gay community, the homeless, the poor, the Rainbow coalition, and environmental groups. He came prepared with a list that went back to the 1960s of times he felt the ALA was too political. I’m sure he would be happy to share that list with the public, if asked. And, no surprise, the word feminism was also on that list. At one point, board chair Roedel mentioned the “big goals” the board has for the library.
I have attended all but one public meeting that this board has held since October, and I would guess that 80% of the board discussion has been on staffing problems (created by the board), and discussion on how the collection development can be changed to remove Gender Queer from the library without getting sued. Nothing anyone says can dissuade Adams that he doesn’t have the right or responsibility to choose what other people read. He does not have the correct understanding of what it means to be on a board and support the mission of the institution he is supposed to be serving. It is time for him to resign or be removed.
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