We would like to respond to Sharon Roberge’s Letter to the Editor that appeared in the January 18, 2018 issue of the Stanley Republican. Sharon’s Letter contained many pieces of information that are inaccurate and misleading.
Sharon says she doubts that Circulation (checkouts plus renewals) is at an all-time high. The annual Circulation of the Library is determined by the Library System. The countable Circulation for each year appears on the Annual Report filed with the DPI. The Circulation numbers can actually be verified through the DPI’s website.
Why is Circulation at an all time high? Director Lori is buying library materials that the community wants, the library has been completely re-organized making the materials easier to find, and more programming is offered for the library users.
Sharon doubts the Board President’s statement that the Library has had “years of no maintenance.” Well, if she is including things like rolls of toilet paper being kept up, okay there’s been maintenance. Last year, City Council decided to allow the Library to spend the money taken in from library fines, copies, faxes, etc. With that money, the Board hired a plumber to fix the bathroom sewer lines which eliminated the smell of sewer gas in the Library. In addition, bats were removed from the building and the guano cleaned up since it was a safety and health issue. Finally, the building was tested for environmental issues such as mold, asbestos, radon, and lead-based paint. The testing results have been turned over to the City. We do not have money to address these issues.
Indeed, City Council has been asked to remove Mr. Barby from the Library Board. City Council was informed of inappropriate behavior but didn’t investigate and did not remove him. Director Lori has a right to workplace safety. Having someone as a liason between the City and the Library that is not being truthful to either governmental body is not the best interest of the Library or the citizens of this community.
City Council was not asked to remove Mr. McLoone by the Board. One of the main responsibilities of a Board member is to be a positive advocate for the Library in the Community. Mr. McLoone has printed news articles and statements in Daisy’s Diary feature that he should have known were inaccurate. As a board member, he had access to information that would have proven that Mr. Barby’s statements at City Council meetings regarding the Library at the very least, being misleading. Is this being a positive advocate for the Library? As the Editor of the newspaper, he is responsible for what gets printed in it.
Let’s address the higher prices and fewer hours. In reality, we are dealing with more than $25,000 less than in 2017. Our budget was cut by over $20,000, and we have fixed expenses totaling over $5000 more than last year. That doesn’t even include the water/sewer rate hike that has gotten so much bad publicity. Yep, we pay the higher rates too. City Council was indeed made aware of these things at the budget hearing, yet chose to cut the budget that much. When revenue goes down that much, something’s gotta give. Neither Director Lori or the Board have any interest in punishing patrons.
Sharon Roberge also states she is aware that the City previously shuffled money away from the Library. She states she fought for her retirement and watched Sue struggle as well. Hmmm…. Obviously, there were problems with the City’s handling of the library money at that time as well.
Sharon also states that she believes the Library Board is trying to get back money from “long ago,” and we should get over it and move on? Hmmm, where have we heard that before???? Yes, indeed the Library Board does want to know where that money went to. City Council has the responsibility to show where those missing funds disappeared to. At any time, Council could have asked their auditors to do a forensic audit to prove where those funds were used. It is not the responsibility of tax payers to pay that money twice as Sharon put it in her letter. City Council is responsible for that missing money and making things right with the Library! It has become a legal matter since City Council refused to act on it!
Sharon also asserts the Library Board has eliminated public comment. This is true for two meetings because of long and crowded agendas. The Open Meetings Law does not require a Public Comment on the Agenda. However, Sharon did indeed have a chance to express her concerns about the computer policy at the October meeting. At the November meeting, Sharon was present and was given the opportunity to speak during public comment, she chose not to. Instead, at the end of the meeting she decided to yell at the Library Board and left.
Sharon states we reviewed the Computer Use Policy out of the blue. That is absolutely false. Policies should be updated every three years. The original Computer Use Policy that was in place when Director Lori started allowed up to a maximum of one hour of computer usage. Our new policy allows up to two hours of usage. There are times during the day that all computers are used by patrons. Sharon may not be aware of this. Our policy makes it fair for everyone. Anyone can bring their laptop or personal device to the Library for unlimited use of our Wi-Fi.
Sharon stated that Director Lori bullied an elderly man from coming to the Library. The Library Board, Director Lori, nor any employees of the Library are aware of this scenario. On the contrary, that elderly man uses the Library still to this day. He has thanked Director Lori and the main employee for being so kind to him.
Next, the Fund raiser held this Summer. It IS true that 2 Library employees were paid for their time at the Fundraiser. The Fair Labor Law prevents public employees from volunteering for the same type of work that they do at their job. Both employees have raised funds for this Library as part of their jobs, and therefore are required to be paid.
Finally, Sharon addresses Director Lori getting a raise. Indeed, she did. Sharon’s math skills need a little improving though. Director Lori was hired for 32 to 40 hours per week when she took the Director’s position. She now works 32 hours per week due to hours being cut. Do you really think her take home pay has gone up significantly? Think again.
Furthermore, come take a look at the Library. Have you been at the Library since Director Lori started in January of 2015. Both floors of the Library have been re-organized by Director Lori with the help of her husband and family. Yes, she has volunteered “plenty” of her time to make that happen for this community. She also sought out the free donations of bookshelves, computer chairs, and table chairs for the Library. Has Director Lori with the Board’s help made a lot of positive changes to the Library? Absolutely!
Sharon’s Letter to the Editor was entitled, “Conflict with Library Dividing Community!” Director Lori and many members of the Board have stood up and fought for this Library. This community has been fighting this City regarding this Library for years, way before Director Lori took over. Recall the petition that helped stop the Library being moved to the School? Isn’t it time, your City and City Council recognize what a well-run Library can do for this Community! A Library can transform a Community! Bring on the Transformation!
Carol Schultz, Library Board President
Lori Klonowski-Cooley, Vice President
Director Lori Stanek