Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wondering About the "Weeding" "Misstep" at the Urbana Free Library

Urbana Free Library

Urbana library 'misstep' upsets patrons. (The News-Gazette, 6/18/2013)

Excerpt: The planned "weeding" was part of the library's effort to prepare for the installation of new security gates and conversion to a radio-frequency identification system, which will allow for several self-checkout stations to be installed later this year. It also was part of an effort to carve out additional space for people in the library, library board President Mary Ellen Farrell said last week. 

Time out: Starting out at the library's homepage, I had trouble locating a list of the names and contact information of library board members,  No luck clicking on "Find Us" and "Contact Us" at the top of the page.

What's this "Your Right to Know?" I asked myself after scrolling to the bottom of the page.


Well, whaddya know!

Not exactly intuitive.

Now back to the article.

But audience members at Monday night's city council meeting called it a mistake, and some even called for the resignation of library Director Debra Lissak.

Time out.  I wonder how often Debra attends council meetings.  As uncomfortable as it would have been for her, she should have been at this one, prepared, accompanied by library board president Mary Ellen Farwell.

Lissak could not be reached for comment on Monday night, but she said last week that it was never intended for so many books to be removed. Some of those books are being returned to library shelves, and Lissak said the "misstep" was the result of a miscommunication.

What's still missing, though, is the appearance of anyone taking responsibility.

And then there's this disturbing sidebar:

Kate McDowell, a former Urbana Library Board member and faculty member at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences, said the event has "damaged public trust" of library officials. 

She said she was troubled by the audio she heard of the last library board meeting and asked that the city begin televising those meetings "in order to encourage greater oversight."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

I assume that Kate's reference to "the last library meeting" is the one that took place on June 11th, for which minutes have not yet been posted.

Looking at the May minutes, I thought the Recording Secretary could have done a better job of summarizing the strategic planning discussion, particularly as it related to public meeting space and collection space.

I'll bet the people who signed this petition would love to know what was said at this meeting, specifically about "collection space in consideration of the first two priorities in the strategic plan".  (The strategic planning process itself looks to be worthy of a follow-up post.)

It also looks as though I have a new real-life case study for the spring 2014 semester of LIS 712 The Public Library.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for a great summary. FOIA requests are pending for many documents mentioned in your blog post. Stay tuned...