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Letters: Readers comment on library situation

To the Editor:

On May 30 I attended a meeting of the Logan County Library Board. There were several taxpaying citizens in attendance that were unhappy with some current library practices, among them the mixing up of all categories of fiction by author’s name instead of by subject (western, science fiction, etc.), the discarding of thousands of books, where the money given to be part of a regional library system goes and other topics.

I was very surprised when I asked if we could ask questions and was told we could not ask any questions. I was told that I would have to request to be on the next meeting’s agenda by Lynn Wright, the board chairman.

Then, I was even more surprised when they called an executive session and kicked us all out of the meeting. When we were let back in, it was announced that Rita Eckart, our local librarian of 13 years, was fired on the spot. No reason was given and when I asked why, I was told I couldn’t ask that question.

From what I understand, the Regional Librarian doesn’t like her and the board backs her. I don’t know what the problem was and neither does anyone else. My question is why was Rita Eckart fired and why are we part of a regional system that seems to hold a lot of power over our local library? Also, about the second or third week in April, I went to the Paris library. When I entered I found out that they had mixed up all the fiction books. When I asked why, I was told that (Regional Librarian) Donna McDonald had instructed the Paris library to mix up all the westerns, science fiction, etc. into alphabetical order according to the author’s name.

I was very displeased with this and asked why. I was informed that the Regional Librarian had ordered this done. No more categories, all in one big file. I called Ms. McDonald to register my dislike of the new system and was told I obviously did not know how libraries were organized. I replied that I had been going to libraries since I was six years old and that they used to be organized by subject mater. My complaint is that now, unless you know what the author’s name is, you have to look through all the fiction books in the library. Unless the title catches your attention or a little sticker at the bottom of the spine, you don’t know whether it’s a western, science fiction or what.

I do not feel like going through every fiction book in the library trying to find a book in the category I am interested in. I also want to say that the people working at Paris are the friendliest and most helpful I have ever dealt with at a public library. Up until now I have had nothing but a good experience in dealing with the library.

Buying books is very expensive, but from now on unless the workers at the library can tell me what has come in, I will only look at the new book rack for my reading material as I find it too difficult and time consuming to look through all the fiction books to try to find one I want to read. In short, I for one would really like to see the old system reinstated at my local library.

I used to use the Dardanelle library until they went to this system. Then I couldn’t find anything. I used Paris exclusively. Now they’ve changed it. The future looks bleak.

Pat Lowder

To the Editor:

Have you been to the Gattis Library in Paris lately? If not then you are in for a shock. What used to be row upon row of books and videos are gone. Now there are a select few of these items (no one will say who chose what stayed) on the shelves.

We have been told since March that the library was to have renovation done. As we waited, fewer and fewer books were on the shelves. No one could say when renovation would start. But the public assumed the books and videos were being put in storage. That was not the case. Now it seems these were discarded without going through the proper channels. These items were Logan County property and it was not brought to the County Judge’s attention until after the fact.

According to County Judge Gus Young, any county property being sold, discarded or given away must have the consent of the County Judge. No one could say who okayed this “weeding” process. Also when these items were being tossed, why was the public not made aware of it. This would have been a great time to have a book sale and use the money for more books or renovation.

At a recent board meeting a comment was made about all the people being there and why they were not at other meetings. I don’t know when these meetings are held and apparently the board doesn’t either. No one was able to make a comment and they were told they would have to be on the agenda for the next meeting if they wanted to speak to the board.

When asked when that meeting would be held, it seems the board did not know. But people were told they could call a board member the next day and she could let them know. Why should that be? There were plenty of calendars around and it should have been easy to say we meet on this date.

Now my questions are:

• What does the $240,000 budgeted for this renovation cover?

That’s a lot for paint, carpet and electrical updates. Will there be books purchased? It was stated that we need to keep up electronically like other libraries, but I believe our children need to be able to touch those paper pages and figure out words for themselves instead of letting electronic devices do it for them.

• If it is our tax money paying for the library, why should someone outside of our county be able to tell us how our library should look?

• Does the board have someone in mind for the librarian’s job?

These are just a few questions the public wanted to asked but were not allowed to.

Betty Humphrey

To the Editor:

I want to thank Wayne Fawcett for his very objective overview of the Paris School District which was recently published in the Paris Express.

It should be most helpful and ecouraging to every parent in Paris.

You are right. Our kids are great. I just want to say thank you.

Nelda Gray

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