As a volunteer and member of the board of the Friends of Franklin County Public Libraries, I am gravely concerned about the current status of the Franklin County libraries and the events that have led to its present situation. I lay the basic causes at the feet of the Franklin County Commission.
Having either attended or watched the last three commission meetings, I have witnessed a distinct lack of respect for library personnel and the Library Advisory Board on the part of at least two specific commissioners. Losing Anne Birchwell was serious and sad. She began as a library assistant and through hard work and perseverance, attained the required degrees to become a library director. I have rarely seen anyone work so devotedly. She enthusiastically developed new programs to help patrons - small children, youth, vision impaired, and musically interested (The list goes on) - while still having time to help patrons with their individual needs.
With the loss of Ms. Birchwell, the Library Advisory Board recommended that Eugenia Butler, who has a masters in library science and has been employed by the library for over six years, serve as interim director. Because of her relationship to Denise Butler, who served as chairman of the Library Advisory Board for over 20 years, several of the commissioners shouted Nepotism! These are the same county commissioners who have practiced nepotism on a regular basis for years… How dare you! Now Michael Morón, who to my knowledge has never been in our libraries, is serving as interim director. Is there a logic here I am missing?
The library system is currently in a severe state of flux. Both Eugenia Butler and Denise Butler have tendered their resignations. Volunteers have left and are leaving the Carrabelle branch. The leadership and volunteer support that has enabled us to have a strong, viable system has been systematically undermined by the actions of our county commissioners. They have continuously thumbed their collective noses at those who were merely trying to do their jobs well and show respect. Commissioners, remember - To get respect you have to earn it.
It is my sincere hope that a new director will be given the opportunity to function freely within that position and not be restrained by the prejudices and personal interests of some of our commissioners.
Vice-president, Friends of the Franklin County Public Library