Editor’s Note: The following letter was written to the members of the board of county commissioners on Oct. 4.
I have served as a member of the Franklin County Public Library Board since 1992. I was chairman of that board for 22 years. During my 24 years of volunteer service, we have built two modern libraries, recommended the hiring of numerous employees including five directors. The Library Advisory Board has had many faithful members throughout the years who serve without pay because of their belief that a strong library system is a sign of a healthy community. The LAB has advised the directors on policy and practice, has interviewed countless numbers of individuals to recommend to the BOCC, and advocated for the library in more ways than anyone could count.
In the recent request to consider Eugenia Butler as an interim director to allow a smooth transition to the next director, the fact that I am on the board was used as an excuse to not have Mrs. Butler serve as an interim director. This is preposterous. No increase in pay was requested nor was any mention made of the fact that she is a veteran library employee or that she is supremely qualified, holding a masters in library science from FSU. The Library Advisory Board request was by no means colored by my membership on that board. If the BOCC is going to start talking about hiring “kin,” then they should examine their own hiring practices both past and present. At least my sister in law was qualified and could do the job.
She did not apply for the directorship last time and is not planning to apply this time.
She only offered to help so that things could run smoothly for a few more weeks. The LAB was grateful for her offer to help. What a shame that our BOCC did not see her offer as a gift but instead tried to read a possible ulterior motive in a kind offer.
The search for a new library director will not be easy. The skill set necessary to run a library typically demands more than $35,000 per year in salary. They will have to deal with constant interference by one or more commissioners in the scheduling and supervision of employees who fail to follow direct orders of their boss. Of course, if you hire one of your family members or an unqualified person, then you may want to dispense with having a legitimate hiring committee and recommendation and just hire someone now and save everyone some time and trouble. Just for your information, I am not on the hiring committee nor was I on the last hiring committee. I did not volunteer either time.
I moved to this county in 1977… almost 40 years ago. I have consistently served as a volunteer in many community endeavors but the library has been my constant effort. I will no longer serve a board of county commissioners who has exhibited the audacity to think that there was EVER anything in it for ME other than a love for all that a library offers to a community.
After 24 years of service, I resign from the Franklin County Library Board effective immediately. You owe Eugenia Butler a sincere apology for discounting her service and concern for continuity. She is a good librarian, a good citizen and a good person.
We have now lost three directors, several volunteers…. and who knows who else may leave…. because of an absolutely untenable work situation in the Carrabelle branch of our library. Until that situation is resolved, there will be little chance that our library system will survive and prosper.
What a damn shame for our county.