On Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, the Neosho Daily News published an anonymous article entitled “Meeting leaves unanswered questions.”
On Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, the Neosho Daily News published an anonymous article entitled "Meeting leaves unanswered questions." In this article, there are seven questions that were posed by Josh Dodson, Seneca Library Committee member, at the Jan. 15 Newton County library board meeting. All of these questions were answered during the meeting. Also, answers to many of these questions were published by the Neosho Daily News in the article written by Whitney Saporito and published on Jan. 16. For the benefit of those who were not present at the Jan. 15 board meeting, we would like to again answer those questions.
• Why is there not an itemized budget plan readily available to the committee as requested? The Newton County Library Director, Ginny Ray, has spent hours going through invoices and providing the requested information about direct spending on the Seneca branch. All budgets have been provided as requested.
• Why do all four budget plans presented to the library board, including those without the $76,000 Seneca branch operating expenditure, have the same bottom line? The budgets presented are balanced budgets. The bottom line remains the same, while individual fund lines vary.
• How can the board justify a $6,000 annual expenditure on E books? E books are part of the library service that library patrons all across the nation now expect. Libraries cannot remain stagnant and offer only books. The same question arose when videos and computers were introduced. The average cost of a circulating book is comparative to that of a physical book, while not taking up physical shelf space. With the failure of the recent levy, the library is operating with limited space. Yet we strive to expand services to patrons across all of Newton County. Anyone who holds a Newton County library card can check out an E book from anywhere in the world.
• Why does the library continue to pay $150/month for lawn maintenance? What was called "lawn maintenance" includes much more, such as snow removal from city sidewalks, mulching flowerbeds and flowerbed maintenance. Mowing the library's lawn by library staff would require the use of taxpayer dollars to purchase equipment, gas, supplies and a storage facility. Worker's comp insurance alone would negate any cost savings. The library staff does a wonderful job of minimizing costs of day-to-day operations. At any given time, staff can be found fixing toilets, cleaning, shoveling snow, sanding and painting, and donating many hours providing construction services for minor remodeling projects.
• If the Seneca branch is to be closed, why did the library board approve installing window tinting in that location's windows? The window tinting was done in response to Seneca staff request. There had been multiple complaints from staff regarding the glare from the sun as well as resulting fading to books. A solution was found and implemented. The library director is continuing to operate the Seneca branch as though it will continue to exist. She will do so until she is informed otherwise. We are also continuing to purchase new materials for that facility.
• Why has Library Director Ginny Ray not been to a Save the Seneca Branch Committee meeting since the group's inception? The director did not receive information about the first meeting until it was over. On the date of the second meeting, she was ill and not able to attend. She notified Mr. Dodson that she would be unable to attend. The date of the third meeting was changed and Mrs. Ray was not notified. When asked at the Tuesday board meeting when their committee meets, Mr. Dodson responded, "On the first Monday, or the second Monday, or whenever people's schedules will allow."
• Why was the Save the Seneca committee representative, Josh Dodson, not treated with courtesy and respect by all board members during Tuesday's meeting? Josh should not have been asked to limit his report to five minutes. His charge, however, was to report on the progress of the committee's fundraising efforts, not to present a budget critique.
The committee presented a list of unproductive demands and complaints. Not once did the board hear how the fundraising efforts were going, and if any money at all had been raised. If library staff members made snide remarks under their breath, the board could not have been aware of that during the meeting. Snide remarks from the public are not censured.
To the anonymous author of the article appearing in Thursday's edition of the Neosho Daily, it appears the library board is not trying very hard to keep the Seneca branch open. This is perplexing, as it currently remains open, following the board's decision to postpone the vote on the Seneca library's closure. Closing a library branch is a decision no library board ever wants to make. The board members, however, are entrusted with taxpayer dollars from all of Newton County, and we strive to make best use of those dollars to serve the most people, with the highest quality of services. The Newton County library board operates in a completely open manner. Any person is welcome to attend any meeting and is welcome to request copies of meeting minutes if unable to attend.
Keri Collinsworth, Linda Martin, Mark Young, Jann Burnett, Connie McClusky (JB), Phyllis Blackwood and Beth Styron.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Like many other newspapers large and small, the Daily News, on occasion, runs "unsigned" editorials on the opinion page. These editorials are written by the editorial board at large papers, while at smaller papers such as the Daily, they are a collaboration between the reporters and the editor. Names, photos and email addresses of those who wrote the editorial are located directly above the editorial. Furthermore, last Thursday's editorial was headed by the words "OUR VIEW" and ended with the words "Daily News."