AP NEWS

Library issues document responding to residents’ questions

May 1, 2019

A more-than-90-page document released late Tuesday by officials of the Allen County Public Library to answer questions submitted by residents reveals concerns that go beyond removing books from library shelves.

The practice, which officials have referred to as “weeding,” was the subject of some of the approximately 200 questions asked by residents after a public board meeting March 27.

But residents questioned many other library practices -- how the library used their personal information, a so-called gag order on library employees limiting their ability to comment on or raise questions about policies and practices, and the use of a computer formula for selection and discarding of books.

Other questions centered on potential conflicts of interest between consultant companies, the timing and content of a survey of patrons and whether the board had asked library director Greta Southard to resign.

The answer to that last line of inquiry sidestepped the question. “Questions related to Human Resources and/or specific employees are not open to public comment or debate,” the answer reads.

The board also appears to claim little responsibility for alleged low employee morale raised in several of the questions.

Asked whether it would consider hiring a neutral person to conduct confidential interviews, the response stated that “is not necessary” in light of existing avenues for employees to raise concerns through the library’s human resources department.

However, the answers also acknowledge a need for “more open communication” among staff, and at one time suggests a new policy will be developed.

At the public meeting, residents secured an April 30 deadline for board members and the administration to provide answers to questions not addressed at the meeting or submitted later.

The library sent an email with the responses shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday. It was posted Tuesday night in full on The Journal Gazette’s website and can be found by clicking on the PDF link at this URL --

http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20190430/WEB/190439985

rsalter@jg.net