Morehead City, N.C.
TO THE EDITOR:
I just broke up with the Carteret County library after a 9 year relationship, and it was every bit as messy and emotional as a real break up. Let me back up and explain. In case you missed it, over the summer our county library pulled out of a multi-county system. Not only that, but all the librarians were let go and told they had to reapply for their job since it would now be considered a county position and they could not be guaranteed the hours or even the branch they would work at.
Along with that overhaul, we had a new county library director installed. Lesley Mason is apparently a result of the “new school” of library science which believes library patrons experience “browser fatigue” if library shelves are full. Using the Covid shutdown, she proceeded to GUT our local libraries stating they needed to be culled and outdated/irrelevant (irrelevant to whom?) information needed to be replaced. While I did not see it personally, I know people who discovered dumpsters FULL of books, very few of which were damaged…well, until it rained on them. I can’t even estimate how many thousands of books have been trashed with no opportunity for anyone to buy the used books or have them donated to any number of local non-profit organizations.
As it turns out, not even Ms. Mason can estimate how many books have been removed. Supposedly, no records have been kept as the books (and our tax dollars) were unceremoniously hurled into dumpsters.
Since the libraries reopened, I’ve been trying to homeschool my children and give the new library system the benefit of the doubt. Every time we entered our library my heart ached at the bare shelves and the absence of all of our favorite librarians we had come to know and love. One day my son discovered his birthstone is aquamarine and he became obsessed with knowing more about it. Off we went to the library. All we wanted was a book on rocks and minerals….what every single kid in the world wants at some point in their childhood. There was nothing. The librarian offered to have a book shipped in. It would take two weeks, meaning I would completely miss my opportunity of his excitement (anyone who has been around children knows how fleeting those moments can be). We had to settle for an adult non-fiction book that was adequate, but most of the information flew over his head.
The final straw was waiting two weeks for a book to be delivered from some other part of the state, a book that my daughter had checked out several times in the past from our local library. It isn’t there anymore, (perhaps in a dumpster?) so had to be shipped in.
So I went to a library in the Craven-Pamlico Regional system (the system Carteret County pulled out of) and paid the non-resident fee to use their system. After getting my card, I walked to the shelves and immediately pulled off the book my daughter had been waiting so long for. I left that library and drove back to our Carteret County library with the plan of returning the few books we had, and asking them to cancel our book requests because we would not be using their system anymore. I steeled myself for the final confrontation. “You’ve changed….You no longer meet my needs….You never asked or cared about what I wanted…”
True to the new norm, instead of being open until 8 p.m., as it had always been, the library was closed at 6 p.m. Lights dark and door locked. How ironically appropriate. So, goodbye Carteret County libraries. I hope you find success in the new direction you are taking, but we will not be there to see it.