Creating a library director search committee with a clear process, building trust between the board, the community, and the staff, moving the library forward effectively, and increasing the sense of a team working together were the key topics of the special meeting of the C.H. Booth Library Board of Trustees, Tuesday, September 24.
“We all have to do it together, and with transparency,” said board Vice President John Trentacosta.
When non-profit public-service oriented institutions such as school systems or churches have to find new leaders, it differs from a corporate situation because in addition to maintaining efficiency and financial solvency, the new leader must be able to provide inspirational leadership to both the staff and the community being served by that staff.
The Board of Trustees of the C.H. Booth Library and new Library Director Shawn Fields were criticized repeatedly during the public participation portion of the monthly library board meeting Tuesday, September 1,.
The Board of Trustees of the C.H. Booth Library has a problem. It has hired a new library director it hoped would lead one of Newtown’s most revered institutions into the future but who has fumbled badly in the first two months of his tenure. Instead of rallying the community around its library to meet the challenges and opportunities of the Information Age, he has failed to connect with his staff and has alienated many of the library’s most steadfast patrons.
As a former C.H. Booth chairman of the board, who occupied the chair during our expansion, I have become disturbed by the happenings at the library, as are many others. It is true that the new director has made some missteps: hiding away Janet Woycik’s picture, firing a popular reference librarian, and upon meeting Janet for the first time, barely acknowledged her and then ordered her to get away from behind the front desk.
Step onto several of the walkways leading in and out of the Booth Library and you will notice it is lined with bricks. Etched into the bricks are names. Mostly, they are Newtown names – of individuals, of couples and of families, who throughout the years have demonstrated their devotion to the library that welcomed them and which their dedication and donations helped to build.
Books don’t make the library—librarians make the library!
Newtown is incredibly lucky to have unusually dedicated, knowledgeable librarians who are willing and able to answer all kinds of questions, find just the right book for the right occasion, and take special care of the people they serve. With a smile!
I’m writing to The Bee for the first time ever, and it is about the place in Newtown that I most love, the Cyrenius Booth Library. I am not happy with some of the changes that the new director, Shawn Fields, is making at the library, and I feel the need to speak up. The Booth Library helped me raise my kids, supplied me with books free of charge since I moved here in 1994 and a job when I was ready. Staff here have always offered a warm welcome and assistance when I needed it.