I would like to discuss the issues of the Sugar Grove Library Board.
As this issue has been covered in the news, we all know a public outcry erupted when the majority of the board voted to terminate long-term, much-beloved Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes. This public outcry began by wanting answers as to how this could happen. It took six weeks for these four board members to come up with a statement to share with their constituents. Meanwhile, these four have been blowing through library funds at a record pace.
They hired their first interim director at a rate of $80 per hour. They paid her over $10,000 in one short month. She resigned after the board was accused of Open Meetings Act violations. She cited “health reasons.” They have now hired their second interim director at a rate of $72 per hour. Each of these interim directors is only supposed to work 20 hours per week. Did you know that our former library director earned approximately $60,000 and was a salaried employee who put in well over 50 hours per week performing her job duties?
One of the biggest public outcries is that our library is not open enough hours each week. Did you know that this board cut all library staff pay and hours? Did you know that no library employee is allowed to work 40 hours a week? Do you know that most of the library employees only earn slightly above minimum wage, yet many have degrees in library science?
There have been comments made that the public outcry should just end, and that those of us with concerns and complaints about the library board actions should just “move on.” However, I think as taxpayers, we should not just “move on.” We should continue screaming from the rooftops so that all can hear and pay heed to the fact these four library board members are behaving badly. They have no idea about the amount of funds that they are spending. They are clueless as to how they will pay their bills. Their past budget ran short prior to the end of the fiscal year, and they have shown us a proposed Budget and Appropriations Ordinance, but I fear they have no idea what their individual line items include.
They want to hire a search firm to find a new director. However, they have no job description, no salary range and they have yet to chart the path of their “new direction.” Yet, this board of four suggests that we, the public, should just “move on.” I think not.
The Library Friends, who worked diligently to raise funds to pay for programs for children and adults, have disbanded. As a long-time member of that group, I totally support this action. Who would want to continue to volunteer tirelessly for a board that lacks direction, acts deviously to the public and the other minority members of their own board, and has no idea what their funds are and how they will pay their bills?
Some say that the Library Friends should just “move on” and let things be. Keep volunteering, keep working and don’t bring public attention to the problems that exist at the library. It doesn’t look good in the newspapers. However, I think not. Again, we need to continue to draw attention to the issues, especially the financial issues, and not just “move on.”
Those of us who continue to attend the Library Board meetings promise that we will keep these four trustees under a microscope. All of their actions will be scrutinized. Their spending will require explanation. We will force them to answer for their actions and to spend our tax dollars wisely. We will demand that they purchase new materials, keep the building in proper repair, treat employees with respect, and answer to the taxpayers that they were elected to serve. We will not “move on.”
I say the solution is quite simple; the Library Board of four should be the ones to “move on.” If these four conniving and conspiratorial individuals would listen to the public outcry and “move on” by resigning, our problems would be over. Peace would reign; public outcry would dissipate and people would know which direction our library was headed.
Take heed Art, Joan, Julie and Bob, and recognize that is the four of you who should “move on” and resign your positions for the good of our library.