Library Board Loses Longtime Member

Daniel Cruson, a longtime member of the C.H. Booth Board of Trustees, has submitted a letter of resignation to the president of the board. The letter, mailed to board President Martha Robilotti “over two weeks ago,” Mr Cruson said on Monday, April 14, was to be “effective upon the receipt of the letter.”

Mr Cruson said that he has been cutting back on involvement in activities in order to devote more time to his writing and research.

“I’m also retiring from the Archeological Society and other organizations, but the library board seemed a good place to start,” he said. As of Monday morning, he had not yet received a response from the board president or other board members, Mr Cruson said, acknowledging his departure from the board of trustees.

Four new members of the board — Julie Starkweather, Walter Motyka, Carolyn Signorelli, and Raymond Irrera — were introduced at the regular April 8 meeting of the board of trustees. Mr Cruson’s resignation was not announced.

According to an e-mail to The Newtown Bee from Ms Robilotti, she plans to announce Mr Cruson’s resignation at the next board meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, May 13, at 7 pm.

“We thank him for his service and wish him the best in his future activities,” said Ms Robilotti.

Mr Cruson has currently served on the board for seven years, and had two more years remaining to serve. He had also served for several years previously, since the 1980s, he said.

“I’ve been on the building committee, the executive committee, and so on, over the years,” Mr Cruson said. He was the historical liaison at the time of his resignation.

“Each year at the annual meeting four trustees shall be elected to serve for a term of three years…” according to the bylaws for the board, and under normal circumstances, no member may serve more than nine consecutive years. At least two years must expire before a former board member is eligible for reelection or reappointment after serving nine consecutive years.

Mr Cruson, whose many involvements include the Village Cemetery Association, the Newtown Labor Day Parade Committee, and who is the town historian, said that he felt he was much more effective in these other areas, than with the board of trustees. He said several ongoing issues with board members, including a lack of communication that left him “out of the loop” on important issues, led to his decision that the board of trustees of the C.H. Booth Library would be one of his first commitments to go, as he streamlines his personal schedule.


The Final Straw

While emphasizing that his decision to step down from the board came out of that desire to cut back on his activities, Mr Cruson also said that the final straw for him was the insult of seeing his book  A Mosaic of Newtown History  being given away last month. The collection of Newtown stories was commissioned by the Tercentennial Committee and published in 2005, he said. Several unsold copies of the book had been stored in the library attic, but late last summer board members determined the boxes needed to be moved from the library.

Mr Cruson is uncertain as to why there was an urgency to move the books, but said he was told the stack of boxes in the attic was “interfering with WiFi capacity” in the library. He was surprised when two or three months ago, a board member asked him why the boxes were being stored outside the library building. The boxes have been situated beneath a portico outside of the south side of the library, under a tarp.

“We’re moving them [from the outdoors] as we find space,” Mr Cruson said. He has not had time to assess the condition of all of the books, but said he would not be surprised if the books in the boxes place directly on the cement had suffered damage.

Last fall, in an effort to decrease the number of books on hand, Newtown Historical Society gave permission for copies of the book to be included in “goodie bags” given to participants of the Newtown Turkey Trot 5K race. Permission was granted, again, Mr Cruson said for donors in attendance at the invitation only March 21 reopening event to be given copies of the book.

“We agreed to give books to these donors who had given $100 or more to the library, as a special premium,” he said, believing it was a great way to recognize the large contributions.

A Mosaic of Newtown History is still available for purchase at the historical society website (newtownhistory.org), as well as other sites, Mr Cruson said. Proceeds continue to generate income to fund future Newtown Historical Society publications.

So when he became aware that a board member had approved giving away more copies of the book to any patron coming into the library in the days immediately following the reopening celebration, or by donating to a jar for the library’s benefit, he was upset.

He would not have given a blanket permission to give away the books.

“It’s insulting. It undercut the gesture to give the book to the big donors, and is just wrong,” Mr Cruson said.

The books are no longer being given away or sold for a donation, but can be purchased at cover price at the library.

The disrespect shown through the earlier action, though, said Mr Cruson, led him to conclude that trimming his activities should begin with his term on the board of trustees of the C.H. Booth Library.

He is looking forward to spending more time on his various research projects, he said, and an ongoing relationship with the library.

Bonnie Miller, publication sales with the Newtown Historical Society, said the organization is anxious to move the books from the portico, even though she believers that the heavy boxes and tarp have protected the books, so far. A space for some of the boxes has also been offered, she said, in a private home.

It would be appreciated if anyone who is willing to store the remaining boxes of the books in a dry, secure space, could do so, Mr Cruson said. Please leave a message with the historical society, at 203-426-5937.

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