The Board of Trustees of the C.H. Booth Library has a problem. It has hired a new library director it hoped would lead one of Newtown’s most revered institutions into the future but who has fumbled badly in the first two months of his tenure. Instead of rallying the community around its library to meet the challenges and opportunities of the Information Age, he has failed to connect with his staff and has alienated many of the library’s most steadfast patrons.
As a former C.H. Booth chairman of the board, who occupied the chair during our expansion, I have become disturbed by the happenings at the library, as are many others. It is true that the new director has made some missteps: hiding away Janet Woycik’s picture, firing a popular reference librarian, and upon meeting Janet for the first time, barely acknowledged her and then ordered her to get away from behind the front desk.
Step onto several of the walkways leading in and out of the Booth Library and you will notice it is lined with bricks. Etched into the bricks are names. Mostly, they are Newtown names – of individuals, of couples and of families, who throughout the years have demonstrated their devotion to the library that welcomed them and which their dedication and donations helped to build.
Books don’t make the library—librarians make the library!
Newtown is incredibly lucky to have unusually dedicated, knowledgeable librarians who are willing and able to answer all kinds of questions, find just the right book for the right occasion, and take special care of the people they serve. With a smile!
I’m writing to The Bee for the first time ever, and it is about the place in Newtown that I most love, the Cyrenius Booth Library. I am not happy with some of the changes that the new director, Shawn Fields, is making at the library, and I feel the need to speak up. The Booth Library helped me raise my kids, supplied me with books free of charge since I moved here in 1994 and a job when I was ready. Staff here have always offered a warm welcome and assistance when I needed it.
Forty years ago, I moved to Newtown. I soon discovered the treasured resources, and the friendly and dedicated personnel of the C. H Booth Library. When I retired five years ago, my activity at the library increased as I became a member of several monthly reading groups. Over time, I borrowed numerous books and DVDs from the extensive collection.
Several weeks ago I was “home” and as usual I went to the library, this time to buy several copies of Daniel Cruson's new book and as always, to breath in the atmosphere. I know and love the fact that ours is a most unique and most special library. I have, over the years, brought many people to admire our very special library. It always fills me with great pride and affection.
The C.H. Booth Library’s new director completed this past week a series of three public forums billed as “Vision Quest” and designed to help the library chart a course for the future. His audience at the two final sessions on Saturday morning and Tuesday evening, however, focused more directly on the director himself and their concerns over recent and imminent changes at the library since his arrival on July 1.
As a 30-year Newtown resident with experience as a librarian and a business communication and marketing consultant, I am responding to the Bee's article about the library focus group. It's true that change is inevitable for every organization, and staff and customers/clients often have difficulty with these changes. However, significant change should only occur when those making the final decisions weigh the ramifications of their actions.