Westhampton Free Library Observations

We’re no experts on boards of libraries, but after having experienced four heated Westhampton Free Library board meetings we know that an elected board is needed.  Here are a few reasons why we feel this way:

  1. At the October 30 meeting, three new board members were “snuck” in with “secured” positions.  President Tom Moore’s term is until 2019!  Joan Levan personally chose these individuals, just after the library became unionized, and when they KNEW that many patrons wanted the appointed board changed to an elected board.  Not only was this sneaky, but it sent a message–loud and clear–that they really didn’t care what the library  patrons/taxpayers want.
  2. Over 60 people attended the October 30 meeting.  We were there.  Many asked questions, most of which were answered with “I don’t know” or “I don’t know, I’m new here”.  The new head of the board continuously (and angrily) answered questions about the possibility of switching to an elected board by shaking his head and saying it would be difficult and complicated and time-consuming while some taxpayers had done research and found this wasn’t true.  MOST association libraries on Long Island have switched over to elected boards quite easily.  Basically, it felt like “us” against “them”, which seemed cold and ridiculous.  An ELECTED board is eager to work with and serve the public.
  3. We feel that having an elected board would make it a more diverse board–age-wise, gender-wise (until recently, the board had been all women), career-wise, etc..  If an interior designer or an architect and been on the board, maybe the main entryway of the library wouldn’t seem so barren, with DVDs rather than books running the show.  Being able to request books from other libraries is great, but still–the interior of the library looks like it was designed by a non-reader.