To the Editor:
I read with not unexpected dismay that the town of Narragansett was denied their Maintenance of Effort from the RI Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS). Isn’t that what the Library Board of Trustees had warned us all about since April? How cavalier the Narragansett Town Council treated the library budget throughout the process! Interesting that the Library was the only department that had a budget cut! Town Councilors railed against the library for accruing a fund balance that was due in part to an expected move to a new modern library and to safeguard denied pensions but nothing was said of the over $4million dollar fund balance that the school department left in their budget. As a former school committee member I find no problem at all with the school’s fund balance as I have all the confidence in the world that there are strategic plans in place outlining the use for that amount. No Town Councilor accused the school department of withholding taxpayer dollars inappropriately yet that same accusation was levied against the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library Board of Trustees.
“Vindictiveness” is the word that keeps coming to mind when I think how Mannix, Lawler and Lema have treated everything related to the library during this past year. They wielded their 3-member majority with distain for library patrons, employees, board members and supporters. At every turn, the answer was always, “NO!” Misinformation has surfaced and been repeated and then somehow believed! No one believed Laurie Kelly when she said that library services would be cut from OLIS if the library budget was not at least level funded. And now that is where we find ourselves. I have heard naysayers repeat that the Narragansett library is NOT the 6th busiest in the state and it is impossible that more than 10,000 patrons utilize library services every month, but there is state data available that supports these remarks as true.
Library supporters are marching on, we are not deterred as demonstrated by the recent Narragansett Times article indicating the funds that are being raised for our new library at the “old Belmont building.” We will continue to fight for what should be ours and we can’t wait for the 2020 election to recoup democracy in Narragansett!!
President, Love Your Library