We’re not sure we understand the reasoning behind another library policy that seems to put all decisions apparently in the hands of a committee — the library board.
On Wednesday, members of the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County board approved a policy making them the primary authority over all exhibits submitted from outside individuals or groups to be placed in the library. Just a few months ago, after consternation over restrictions in library displays, the board approved a policy that would allow outside groups to place exhibits in a certain area of the library primarily used for public purposes.
That policy seemed like a good compromise on issues some library board members and the public had in regard to book displays regarding sexual content.
However, the board has whiplashed again, and it appears they intend to take charge over the library staff regarding these public displays as well. And, they want groups to submit their display or activity requests four months in advance. That’s a long lead time to get a decision on a public display or activity, and doesn’t really serve the public interest well.
This seems to be getting out of hand, and it also seems to be undermining the current library staff and even the city manager and city commission. While the library board is tasked with policy oversight responsibilities, is this really the direction our city commissioners want for the public library?
This intent by the board to involve itself more in the day-to-day running of the library indicates it’s past time for the city to make a decision regarding hiring a permanent library director. We know this has been difficult in the past because apparently there aren’t enough candidates with the qualifications required to apply for the position when it’s been advertised.
However, the level of anxiety regarding the library the last few years is counter-productive to the positive works and programs our public library is known for.
The city must commit to hiring a permanent library director and then provide the support that director needs to accomplish the mission of the public library, which according the American Public Library Association, is to provide free and open access to a broad range of materials and services to people of all ages and backgrounds; to be an integral part of the educational process for youth and a venue for continuing education for adults; and to support a sense of community within the population it serves.