Library board under fire for recent restructuring


First Posted: 1/21/2009

OTTAWA - It was a good-news-bad-news evening for members of the Putnam County Library Board on Tuesday evening.

On the good news side, the board received a settlement agreement from CORSA for the library building and contents that were damaged in the August 2007 flood. CORSA agreed to pay the library $2.75 million by Jan. 30.

The board also reviewed an agreement with the village for the purchase of property on Putnam Parkway. The agreement includes $1 for the land and $56,000 for the library's share to extend the road and infrastructure to the site.

For the bad news, nearly 40 people showed up at the meeting to discuss the board's recent decision to restructure the work load in order to save money. The restructuring included the elimination of five branch manager positions. Instead, two branch coordinators and director Kelly Ward will oversee the seven branch libraries and district library in Ottawa.

The board received notification recently that state funding will be cut by 8 percent for the entire 2009 year. This amounts to a cut of $100,552 during 2009.

A group known as The Putnam County Library Patrons, Voters and Concerned Citizens Association requested a meeting with the board regarding questions and issues surrounding the operation of the library.

"If you choose not to grant this, then we will ask for your resignations as library board members," said spokeswoman Judi Parker.

Parker told the board they need to be more accountable to Putnam County and also said Ward and fiscal officer, Nancy Stauffer, had been perceived as violating the morals, ethics and integrity of their positions.

Parker said they wanted to discuss these improprieties and had 75 questions that had been raised by the people of Putnam County.

Board president Larry Bracken said he did not have a problem with setting up this type of meeting, but requested a copy of the questions before the meeting.

Parker said she would discuss this request with the group.