No one had to be quiet at the library Saturday, as a large crowd gathered to speak out against the decision to layoff eleven employees at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum library.
"The primary mission of this building was to be a public library. That is the first thing listed in their mission statement. And what they seem to forget is that the first thing they have taken right out and they are focusing on the thing listed third in their mission statement, an art gallery. This is a public library first and they need to remember that," said Marti Fiske, a member of the Rural Librarians Unite.
The Rural Librarians Unite (RuLU) group was partly organized in response to the Athenaeum layoffs. The group rallied Vermonters to speak out against the Board of Trustees and join hand-in-hand, hugging the building. "The libraries today are not the place that you remember when you went to them as a child," Fiske said. "We are not the quiet places anymore. We are the community centers. We provide services that are beyond the old books. We do everything today that anyone could need."
"These are some of the most certified trained wonderful people I know," said Beth Kanell an author and St. Johnsbury resident. She said she's brought her children to the library for years and has watched the staff at the Athenaeum grow over time. "It's a heartbreak," she said. "These are people I trust to lead me to information, help me evaluate the information, be there for me when I have needs for information as a citizen, as a mom, and as a grand mom."
Bill Marshall, Chair of the St. Johnsbury Board of Trustees, said there are concrete reasons for the Board's decision. "We have the same goal as the demonstrators -- we meaning the board and the staff -- of having a vital and essential library service. In that sense, we share what is probably being expressed today. We are taking these steps to be sure we can preserve and enhance the original vision for Athenaeum. And if we don't make these changes, the Athenaeum, in our opinion, is in jeopardy," he said.
Marshall said the goals of the Board are to increase revenues, reduce expenses and reconfigure staffing. That being said, he respects the group hug demonstration but stands by the board's decision. "It's a challenge handling the layoffs. Athenaeum isn't unique to these challenges. I would say this is even more than a national challenge, this is a global challenge of how libraries are going to meet the needs of today's patron and into the future," Marshall said.
While the layoffs are not in effect until February 1, 2013, protesters hope the Board will reconsider.
Friday, May 17 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:54:10 GMT
The door to room 118 at the Liberty Inn and Suites is gone-- busted by police during an early morning drug raid. They say tenant Julie Herron, 41, was selling heroin out her room. She was living thereMore >>
A South Burlington drug bust exposed new abuses of the state's homeless voucher program. A couple was arrested for selling heroin out of their motel room, and police say the state was footing the bill for their stay.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:56:29 GMT
A public defender entered 34-year-old Anthony Wright's not guilty plea in the Chittenden County courthouse Friday morning. Police say a search of Wright's residence two days earlier revealed about 250More >>
A Burlington man denies drug charges after police say they stumbled upon his marijuana grow operation. It happened while authorities were investigating another alleged drug crime next door.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:45 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:45:07 GMT
Prosecutors in a murder case said Thursday that backups at the Vermont Forensics Lab have slowed their case, and the defense said the delays are violating their client's right to a speedy trial. So, isMore >>
Prosecutors in a murder case said backups at the Vt. Forensics Lab slowed their case; the defense said the delays violate their client's right to a speedy trial. So, is that courtroom strategy or is there really a backlog? More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 9:45 AM EDT2013-05-17 13:45:45 GMT
A trial date has been set for a Massachusetts man accused of killing a woman in southern Vermont. 31-year-old Frank Caraballo will be in court September 9. He's accused of killing Melissa Barratt inMore >>
A trial date has been set for a Massachusetts man accused of killing a woman in southern Vermont.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 12:26 PM EDT2013-05-17 16:26:55 GMT
A Vermont used car dealer is facing federal fraud charges of hiding malfunctions in the cars he sold. Prosecutors say Douglas Jordan, 40, of Wolcott, bought high-mileage used cars at auction and sold themMore >>
A Vermont used car dealer is facing federal fraud charges of hiding malfunctions in the cars he sold.More >>