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.
Congratulations to the more than 600 children who participated in the C.H. Booth Library’s Summer Reading Program “Dig Into Reading.” The success of this program is due to the efforts of many: our dedicated library staff, our community partners and the 69 young adult volunteers who donated 769 hours listening to reading reports and awarding incentives.
Concerned about the happenings at Booth Library since Director Shawn Fields took over on July 1st, I attended the library focus group session on August 24th. Unfortunately, I came away with additional concerns. I am deeply concerned about the work environment of the staff. I am perplexed and disappointed about losing Andrea Zimmermann from that staff. And I certainly don't think making big changes when brand-spanking new to a job shows much wisdom.
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.