Turn of events at RFL is appalling

SAXTONS RIVER — Members of the public are aware of the recent decision of the Rockingham Free Public Library Board of Trustees to close the Library building until current renovations are complete.

There are no valid reasons why the building should not have remained opened. The decision by the trustees was made despite a unanimous resolution passed by the Selectboard that the library should remain open, and with complete disregard for the views of the public, including many library users as well as the Friends of the Library, whose members felt strongly that the building should remain open during renovations.

The library has now been closed for over a week, and we still do not know for certain when library services will be available at an alternate location.

Complicating the issue, at a meeting of library trustees on June 4, estimates were discussed for moving library services during renovation - a conversation that should have preceded a vote for closure. These estimates ranged from $7,000 to $10,000, to be paid by taxpayers.

The Trustees could not agree to finance the cost of moving, or to sign the contract for leasing the space temporarily.

This fiasco necessitated canceling arrangements that had already been made in order to render the rental space ready for the library.

More immediately, members of the public have recently become aware that Library Director Célina Houlné has come under direct personal criticism from a number of trustees for the way in which she has performed her duties.

These trustees have concocted an eight-page “Corrective Action Plan” which, among other things, accuses the library director of “improper fiscal management” and imposes unreasonable additional demands upon her. Some believe this is part of a campaign by some trustees to create a pretext for dismissing her.

Those who are close to the library and use its services are appalled at this turn of events. Many current library users, including a number of former trustees, can attest to the diligence, efficiency, enthusiasm, and total dedication of the librarian and her staff in making Rockingham a model library.

As a leader, the library director has won the respect and strong support of her entire staff. They are together a wonderful team, and the public must not allow their achievements to be undermined.

We urge members of the public to make their views known by writing to the Board of Trustees, c/o the Rockingham Free Public Library, 65 Westminster St., Bellows Falls, VT 05101.

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