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Letter to the Editor: Library Board

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Anne Kelly

Dear Editor of the Goshen News,

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”  Walter Cronkite.

At the March Library Board of Directors meeting, there was much discussion about having the Library Policies available for members of the public to avoid  the problems surrounding the improper removal of GENDER QUEER“ from the library last July. The Reconsideration Policy clearly states procedures for such action and Board members think it important to make them public to avoid future issues.

In the same meeting, however, some members demonstrated a lack of understanding of the same policies.  During the meeting library director Tabitha Guarnieri shared her response to the one complaint letter.  Even though there were over 50 complaints, only one qualified for a response.  This is due to improperly responding to and omission of response to questions on the form.  One of the main disqualifiers was 49 complainants did not actually read the book.  One member implied that this was just being picky, but actually it is not being picky. Ms. Guarnieri properly followed the policy.

The board member went on to state that the letter was not a proper response and therefore the matter was in the Library Board’s hands.  This is another misunderstanding of the policy.  The response letter is not for the board to judge, according to the policy, which states that Ms. Guanieri’s letter/response be sent to the complainant. At that point, if not satisfied, the complainant can then send it to the Library Board. 

Before a complaint is escalated to the Board, I would hope that our elected officials make themselves aware of the Reconsideration Policy, and Freedom to Read statement that informs that policy.  I’m no expert, but have educated myself by attending some meetings of the Connecticut Library Association, who advise public libraries on policy development. Possibly a member of the CLA could attend the next Library Board of Directors meeting, so that a clear understanding of the policy, as well as legal ramifications therein, can be shared by all those involved.  I would be happy to address the board of directors myself, but there are no links to their emails either on the town website or on the library website.  I believe that problem may be being addressed, and would hope that that is a priority for the Board as well.



Anne Kelly



(Editor’s note:  Most of Library Board emails are now listed in the Freedom Corner)