Davis, N.C.

Sept. 1, 2020

TO THE EDITOR:

During my career as a manager in industry I learned that change is a necessary constant. However, I also learned that you need to take the time to understand your organization, employees, and customers before you make those changes. I'm afraid our library is being changed without that insight.

For example, the "new library" is moving to on-line and virtual services and Facebook, neglecting the fact than many older patrons are not fluent in technology, nor does Down East have adequate internet service.

I'd like to correct and expand upon Mike Shutak's recent article, "Public Library Changes Draw Concern...."

Regarding the Library lease:

After I read a statement in the News Times that the lease for the Down East Library was in question, I called Mr. Chadwick. He informed me that the lease was pre-existing and had been approved by the Attorney General. A couple of days later, the Library Director stated the lease would be invalid if Mr. Chadwick was re-elected in November. I hope this misunderstanding will soon be re-solved.

Regarding the books:

We gave well over 2500 culled books to various groups and organizations. All were in excellent condition, exactly as you'd find on the library shelf. In spite of repeated published statements, we found none with mildew, and dis-posed of only a few children's books with damaged covers and a number of books that had the back cover ripped off by a thoughtless librarian (less than 30 total).

Ms. Mason refused to give books to one Friends group unless they signed a restrictive Memorandum of Under-standing. This was never necessary under the regional system and it appears she would rather throw books away than give them back to the citizens who paid for them.

Based on my experience, I challenge Ms Mason's statement, "We are using Better World Books for most of our discards". I'm sure Ms. Mason could show us receipts for those quantities to clarify the issue.

A very conservative calculation shows that $30,000 worth of books were culled from the Down East Library alone, and there are four more libraries, all larger. How will the books be selected, in what time frame, where will the money come from, and is this saving money?

Regarding the employees:

I would note that Ms Mason is correct, no staff changes were made after July 1; all that happened before then. Citizens would be stunned to learn of the high percentage of our long-term librarians who chose to quit rather than continue to work in the new system. Mr. Shutak might take a look at this.

In closing, this transition from the region to the county was done with questionable motives and non-existent financial justification. The county commissioners and the public have had the wool pulled over their eyes. And the subsequent transition is chaos.

It's time that this train wreck goes beyond the Letters to the Editor section. It is the commissioners' duty to learn exactly how this happened, who was responsible, and to correct it for the future.

PAUL AUSTIN

(6) comments

Susan W. Simpson

To the Editor:

How much longer will this poor horse be beaten?

Readers have always had access to the county’s libraries during the pandemic and the transition to county government. New and former online resources remain available, and a new catalog, but the libraries remain full of books and, through NC Cardinal, ready access to titles not on local library shelves. Now that the libraries’ doors are open, browsers are welcome. Social distancing, masks and gloves are required, as public safety remains a priority.

No one likes change especially in “their” public library, but misinformation, rumors, and half-truths make things confusing and misleading for everyone, especially for public library supporters.

Susan W. Simpson

Retired Librarian

Concerned Citizens of Newport Library - Response to Susan W. Simpson:

Rest assured, “this poor horse will be beaten” until the public gets the answers they deserve, as Mr. James Ellis has stated in a previous comment.

And, yes, “mpjeep”, it sure is another library article because nothing has been resolved. You may certainly move on if you wish, but we are not moving on until something is done.

How cavalier of Ms. Simpson to claim that “misinformation, rumors, and half-truths” have been the order of the day. Anything stated in previous letters has valid proof to support it. And, that is correct, no one does like change in “their” public library; the quotation marks lead us to believe that Ms. Simpson feels it is not ours to advocate for, but the fact remains that it most certainly is OUR library and to the citizens, it is THEIR library. Since she conveniently survived the reorganization of the libraries by attaining a consulting position, we are sure she is not particularly upset about any of it. It has been circulated through various channels that the original idea to break from the region was hers, due to the regional board of directors eliminating her position. What a shame that what appears, to all intents and purposes, to be a personal resentment has led to so much chaos and so many jobs lost. If there were other viable motives or any financial justification at all, it should have been made public a year ago when the vote was taken. As is, all we see is a personal vendetta. If Ms. Simpson or her library director care to elaborate on the original impetus for this drastic change, we’re all ears. Funny, in a previous article in this paper from September 22, 2012, Ms. Simpson said it was “a nightmare to think about the three counties separating, not only about the books and the finances but the computer system. The patrons would have totally been inconvenienced” … and here we are.

Ms. Simpson also chooses to skip over one of the most crucial concerns voiced in this online forum, the trashing of perfectly good books. We saw no justification for this travesty in her remarks and that is no surprise. It is indefensible. This is the same person who assured all of us that our jobs would not change, that “we would not be able to tell the difference when the county took over”. We all see how that turned out. Her letter addresses none of the issues of true concern voiced by the people of this county. None of those making public comments on the library situation sound confused or misled to us; they sound like true library lovers who are angry at what a mess has been made of THEIR county libraries and disbelief that it has been allowed to happen.

It is also extremely interesting, and very telling, that the new director with all her supposed awards and education, has made no adequate response to the people. As far as we have seen, she has only made inaccurate statements to a local reporter and possibly defended herself to the county manager and commissioners, who fell for her game from the beginning.

Thank you to Mr. Paul Austin for reiterating what we have been saying since this change was planned…the county commissioners need to do their elected duty and put some time and effort into correcting this situation. Any who are up for reelection may be surprised when we hand out flyers at the polls, sharing with the electorate exactly who voted to ruin THEIR library.

mpjeep

Another library article? Let's move on!

james ellis

This horse needs to be whipped until we get some answers...Obviously something "shady" has taken place, and the taxpayer/library patrons deserve answers...

Herewegoagain

Always something shady when you say certain members names with the board of commissioners!

SandFiddler

The squeaky wheel gets the oil, so I would say keep this going until it sinks in commissioners' minds that we, the taxpayers, know dusky when we see it, when we hear it, when we sense it. We expect corrective action.

Welcome to the discussion.

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