Sunday, July 7, 2013

Trustee Bill Brown speaks about the crisis at Urbana Free Library

In today's News-Gazette (Sunday, July 7), Trustee Bill Brown - the newest member of the Library's Board - presents his thoughts on recent events and actions.

Here's are excerpts of Brown's comments:

The public comments at board meetings on June 11 and 19, as well as the city council meeting June 17, and the dedicated research and other materials provided by interested members of the public, will make it possible for the board to begin to address the many concerns library patrons have brought forward...
The library director recently put detailed statistics on the library website showing the sections that were weeded with this process. She also put board packets for previous meetings on the site along with the minutes that were already there. While this is a start to greater transparency, the board obviously would benefit from more public scrutiny. Not only was our adjournment late into the night on the 19th a violation of the Open Meetings Act, three of the first five meetings this year also adjourned after closing hours. If a member of the public wants to come to see the last five minutes of a meeting, they should be able to do that. Meeting rooms must remain open and meetings should be video recorded and archived...
In all of this, I'd like to remind folks that our library is more than a building and books and media and meeting space. The library has achieved excellence and respect through the work of people — directors, trustees and employees. There is no point in trashing reputations, but it's perfectly acceptable to be professionally critical of those who can respond in public — the director and the board. 
There is no excuse for shifting blame to employees or criticizing them in public. One of the first priorities of the board should be establishing effective grievance procedures and protections to help alleviate tension in the workplace. 
Thank you, Trustee Brown, for standing up against the status quo. We must discourage 'blamesplaining and voice our concerns. Let's put the public back in our public library.

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