For the 20-plus years that I have lived in Newtown, I have always considered the C. H. Booth Library “the happiest place in town.” A special place to get away from the tedium of every day life and meet kind, considerate people always ready with a smile and helpful hand. Even after the bleakest day in our town's history, the Booth Library provided friendly respite from the realities of the outside world.
Just nine people scattered themselves throughout the rows of chairs set up in the C.H. Booth Library’s meeting room August 15 for the first of three scheduled “focus groups” designed to assess the community’s views on short- and long-term change at the library. The sessions may seem like the routine stock-taking exercises common to most public institutions in times of transition, but for some of those few who showed up last week, the invitation to weigh in on the direction of the library seemed particularly urgent and relevant.
I would like the Newtown community to know why, after 15 years, I am no longer to be found at the reference desk of the C.H. Booth Library.
On Friday, August 3, as I was preparing to head out on vacation, the director informed me that my job as reference librarian was eliminated as of August 10. As part of the restructuring of the physical space and staffing, I was offered an alternate position which I declined.
C.H. Booth Library Director Shawn Fields held the first of three public focus group meetings, Thursday, August 15, in the meeting room of the library.
In the position of library director since July 1, Mr Fields hopes that the focus groups and comments delivered to him via social media will provide him with insight into what changes patrons would like to see, or not see, in the short term and in the long term, he said.
We have lived in Newtown since 1968, raised two children here, and I taught 33 years in our school system. The Cyrenius Booth Library has been a constant source of learning, fine reading, pleasure and friendship. Now that my husband and I are retired, the library seems like an extension of our home.
There are times when we have to question and oppose the thinking and decisions that are made by those entrusted with the responsibility to provide the best operating environment for the residents of Newtown. This is especially true in the case of the new library director, Shawn Fields, who has a plan to overhaul the existing layout of the library to fit into his concept of what our library should resemble in his mind.
C.H. Booth Library Director Shawn Fields announced Tuesday, August 6, that the library has established social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. Mr Fields also invites the public to check out his personal reading list at www.goodreads.com/shawnthelibrarian and follow his blog at theboothlibrary.wordpress.com.