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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Protesting in the Granite State

It’s always nice to see people concerned about their librarians, even their fired librarians. A few months ago I wrote about a protest involving a dismissed library worker in Alaska. That one was confined to the library board meeting if I remember correctly.

There’s a current protest in Epping, NH that’s taking it to the streets. Sixty or so residents protested that a part-time children’s librarian got fired by the library board.

That might not sound like much, but the town only has about 6,000 residents. If 1% of New Yorkers took to the streets, it’d be considered a major event. Sixty residents in Epping is probably enough to bring the town to its knees and snarl up traffic for several minutes.

And that’s not all. In addition to the protest, there’s a Change.org petition to reinstate “Miss Tracie” to the library. It had over 250 signatures when I looked at it.

Think about that. If you were fired, would 250 people protest? That’s pretty amazing support for a part-time children’s librarian.

The testimonials are glowing from parents and children, and one parent described the librarian as a “rock star” for the children. One child is planning to become a librarian because of her influence, thus adding to the number of potential un- or underemployed librarians in 20 years or so.

There’s no official reason given for the dismissal, which is understandable. The scuttlebutt is that she took too many sick days, but nobody’s confirmed that.

The chair of the board of trustees declined to comment on the firing, but “said he was pleased to see so many people coming out to support the library.”

That’s either very diplomatic or very obtuse. Does protesting against the library board of trustees for firing a librarian equate to support of the library?

Looks like there’s more to come. The protesters are planning to attend the next board meeting, so we’ll see if radical action has any effect on this library board.

Either way, it’s still a good sign that there are librarians having such a positive effect on people that the people will stand up with signs in public places and say things on their behalf.

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Comments

  1. Will Manley says:

    Librarians can make a difference. Librarians can change lives.

  2. carolyn manning says:

    The only people who know why she was fired is the librarian and those on the Board. It is great that so many people liked this librarian. She may have been a great “people person” to the patrons, but a not so great employee. The Board won’t discuss it in public because it is a private matter and the librarian may discuss it and possibly only give her side of it- hence the public outcry. My feeling is that there shouldn’t be a rush to judgement against the Board. The scenario could have been that she was given several chances to amend the behavior or actions they didn’t like and she never took it seriously.

    • Cranky says:

      Agreed – as someone who sits on the local school board, I know how frustrating it can be when you’ve taken an action that is 100% justified, but cannot discuss it. There are many laws and confidentiality guidelines that apply when you are talking about someone’s employment, and unfortunately “no comment” comes off as dismissive, when really it more often means “I’d love to explain my side of the story but I legally cannot.”

    • me says:

      Well, then maybe they should say “I’d love to explain my side of the story but I legally cannot.” There is nothing illegal about that is there? If you don’t want to come off as dismissive then avoid saying things that come off as dismissive.

    • Penny says:

      @Me -From the article in Seacoast on line “Michael Vose, chairman of the library’s Board of Trustees, declined to comment on the rumor and said he “can’t comment on the dismissal, as it is a personnel matter.” No one with any type of legal or HR responsibility would comment on anything involving such a matter. I’ll bet the town attorney warned them not to say anything. People are often surprised when a well liked person is dismissed. They have no idea what those “well liked” people might have done at work.

    • Jordan Rivers says:

      > They have no idea what those “well liked” people might have done at work.

      Too true. Our best-loved reference librarian is incredibly toxic to the rest of the reference staff, performs zero duties outside of desk hours and collection development, and–we strongly suspect–actively devalues the library’s “brand” through his reference incompetence.

      The patrons love him, though, because he fulfills librarian stereotypes, because he makes library use look so difficult that they couldn’t possibly perform searches on their own, and because he hand delivers the materials he unilaterally chooses from among the search results.

      The patrons are grateful and don’t seem to much mind that the materials don’t really answer their queries; they just assume we don’t have anything for their specific topics. We usually do have relevant materials that can be found with a simple keyword search in the appropriate databases, but the librarian can’t effectively use the tools and can’t quite grasp the specifics of our patrons’ queries.

      The show he puts on while struggling looks impressive to the uninitiated, though, and the largely irrelevant materials he pulls out seem to make patrons think they’re getting excellent, personalized service.

  3. Ann Robinson says:

    While I don’t have a clue about the specifics in this case, I appreciate the support the Epping Library, and this person in particular, has earned from its citizens. I have taken quite a few unexpected and unwelcome sick days myself recently, and I’m just grateful that I am FT and was covered.

  4. I’m actually a little surprised that the board did the firing. The small-town libraries where I work have one librarian who reports to the board and the rest of them report to that librarian. A firing from the board either indicates a different structure–possible I guess–or something a little odder than the usual “too many sick days” sort of thing. I am curious about what’s up and I appreciate you highlighting it.

  5. Jennifer Tracy says:

    Miss Tracie has done so much for our community and has made so many lives in our town better. It’s soo bad when she needed something, people didn’t step up for her. Her sick days they talk about were unpaid and the library was always organized and running smoothly and she even came in on un-paid time after being out to make sure things were running smoothly! I will admit I don’t know the whole story but I do know that in our town we always help each other out! The first thing my kids do when we pull into the library is look for Miss Tracie’s car and are anxious to see her. She has some tough shoes to fill and good luck to the person who tries to take her place!

    • C says:

      I appreciate what you are saying, it is fantastic that there are so many people willing to support her, but please, do not punish the librarian who will take her place. He/ she most likely did nothing wrong, and deserves a chance as well.

  6. msmith says:

    Was there a public meeting before letting her go? Because it sounds like the public wasn’t given any notice or chance to offer input.

  7. carolyn manning says:

    I don’t think the public should have any say when an employee is let go. If the employee is sub par, an employer won’t keep him or her just because they are liked by the public.