Only eight people attended a forum Saturday morning to discuss what is needed in the new Sugar Grove Library director.
The sparse turnout could be because people were busy baking cookies, shopping for presents or cleaning the house for holiday parties.
Contact information ( * required )
But library critic Pat Graceffa said many people told her the meeting "would be a waste of their time," because the library board has disregarded their requests in the past. Graceffa writes an email community newsletter and sent several reminders in the past week to subscribers pleading with them to attend.
Library board meetings this summer and fall attracted dozens of residents protesting the July firing of the longtime director.
Saturday's forum was conducted by search consultant Alice Calabrese-Berry, who said she will review applications and present the best to the board.
The board has yet to decide if one person, a committee or the full board will interview every applicant. The library's personnel committee consists of one person, Vice President Art Morrical. Calabrese-Berry has suggested a member of the community sit on the interview committee.
The board also has not decided what to pay a new director.
The library will have another forum on Jan. 14.
Trustees Morrical, Anthony Oliver, Julie Wilson and Bill Durrenberger attended the forum. For the most part they listened to comments, with Morrical answering Calabrese-Berry's questions about when the library was built and how big it is.
Oliver explained why the board discussed a proposal to cut the library's hours in a closed session Thursday night, after an audience member said that was illegal, accused the board of repeatedly violating the law, and said the new director should be an expert on the law so as to guide board members.
Audience members said the new director needs to be involved in the community to attract nonusers to the library, something they said is key if the library ever hopes to get voters to increase operating taxes. The director also needs financial expertise, as the library faces operating deficits.
Voters have rejected proposed operating tax increases more than a dozen times, even while approving construction of a new building five times the size of the old one.
Asked what kinds of programming is desired, Mari Johnson said events for young children encourage parents to get more involved.
Several people criticized the four trustees who voted to fire the previous director, saying they doubted the board would treat a new director any better and wondering who would want this job.
Former trustee Douglas Hartman said he was skeptical the board could attract a director strong enough to accomplish these things with the current board. And if they did, "I think they (the new director) won't suffer this board very long," he said.
He also said the board was "historically lazy," with members not taking trustee training offered by local and state library associations.
Durrenberger said change is afoot on the board, even though he was in the minority on the decision to fire the director. "There are three people on this board now that don't take any (guff)," he told the audience. " ... It is still 4-3, but that is better than 7-0. People are listening, people are backing off, people are not expecting to run the show all by themselves any more."