As much as it pains us to say this, the current majority of trustees on the ImagineIF Library Board are attacking the vision we have for a 21st Century Library in the Flathead and eroding the quality of service for all our neighbors.
As reported in the Beacon Courier, certain current library trustees have engaged in a systematic and coordinated effort to deconstruct the library from within. We see that this action by those trustees will continue to negatively affect the library unless it is stopped. There are five areas of substantial concern that need to be understood in order to be addressed.
Devaluing professional staff. Some examples:
- Reducing salaries for open positions (in this labor market??)
- Making the MLS degree for the Library Director position optional
- Requests that Board members be allowed to monitor library staff while they work
- Constant interrogation of staff decisions, distrust of staff
- Disparaging comments about librarianship
- Suspension of a staff succession plan
- Railroading the hiring process
Disregard for board procedure, MT Code. Some examples:
- Violations of open meeting laws
- Violations of Robert's Rules
- Attempts to revise established policies in the midst of applying them
- Mishandling of personnel issues outside of committees
Used secrecy and obfuscation instead of open government. Some examples:
- Attempts to prevent library staff from attending Board meetings
- Attempts to use "closed sessions" inappropriately to shield themselves from scrutiny
- Opaque agendas, frequently revised after the notice period
- Complaints about press coverage, Foundation advocacy, and public attendance of meetings
- Attempts to keep disparaging remarks made to potential funders hidden from the Foundation
Failed to advocate for funding. Some examples:
- Reluctance, sluggishness, or refusal to engage County Commissioners on questions of increasing library budget (which has now been flat for 5 years) or securing adequate facilities
- Suggestions that an "austerity budget" is an appropriate response to increasing demand and population growth, despite no other County department adopting such a mandate.
Actively promoted and encouraged materials challenges. Some examples:
- Trustee coordination with individual citizens making materials challenges
- Failed attempts to suspend the acquisition of materials outright
- Politicized criticism of the American Library Association's right to read statements
- Disregard for the majority of feedback in favor of the right to read, amplification of censorious voices
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