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.
As a 30-year Newtown resident with experience as a librarian and a business communication and marketing consultant, I am responding to the Bee's article about the library focus group. It's true that change is inevitable for every organization, and staff and customers/clients often have difficulty with these changes. However, significant change should only occur when those making the final decisions weigh the ramifications of their actions.
Congratulations to the more than 600 children who participated in the C.H. Booth Library’s Summer Reading Program “Dig Into Reading.” The success of this program is due to the efforts of many: our dedicated library staff, our community partners and the 69 young adult volunteers who donated 769 hours listening to reading reports and awarding incentives.
Several weeks ago I was “home” and as usual I went to the library, this time to buy several copies of Daniel Cruson's new book and as always, to breath in the atmosphere. I know and love the fact that ours is a most unique and most special library. I have, over the years, brought many people to admire our very special library. It always fills me with great pride and affection.
The C.H. Booth Library’s new director completed this past week a series of three public forums billed as “Vision Quest” and designed to help the library chart a course for the future. His audience at the two final sessions on Saturday morning and Tuesday evening, however, focused more directly on the director himself and their concerns over recent and imminent changes at the library since his arrival on July 1.
Concerned about the happenings at Booth Library since Director Shawn Fields took over on July 1st, I attended the library focus group session on August 24th. Unfortunately, I came away with additional concerns. I am deeply concerned about the work environment of the staff. I am perplexed and disappointed about losing Andrea Zimmermann from that staff. And I certainly don't think making big changes when brand-spanking new to a job shows much wisdom.
For the 20-plus years that I have lived in Newtown, I have always considered the C. H. Booth Library “the happiest place in town.” A special place to get away from the tedium of every day life and meet kind, considerate people always ready with a smile and helpful hand. Even after the bleakest day in our town's history, the Booth Library provided friendly respite from the realities of the outside world.
Just nine people scattered themselves throughout the rows of chairs set up in the C.H. Booth Library’s meeting room August 15 for the first of three scheduled “focus groups” designed to assess the community’s views on short- and long-term change at the library. The sessions may seem like the routine stock-taking exercises common to most public institutions in times of transition, but for some of those few who showed up last week, the invitation to weigh in on the direction of the library seemed particularly urgent and relevant.