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Writer frustrated with Columbia County Rural Library District board

 

February 6, 2020



Dear Editors,

Libraries are filled with words. All along the shelves are bound series of words that tell stories of all kinds. Libraries have always been places where words are important even when a reader or a patron disagrees with those words. Libraries are supposed to be the last bastion of banning of words. They are the fortress against the silencing of voices. They allow all to be heard.

Perhaps at one time that is what Dayton Memorial Library was like. But things have changed. The Board of Directors at CCRLD have decided that public comments at monthly meetings will not be allowed. At the January meeting a group of concerned citizens were informed that no public comments would be allowed.

No explanation why.

The CCRLD Board has been under scrutiny for the past year for many reasons. Members of the public addressed concerns such as ADA requirements and surreptitious audio recordings of employees and patrons. Granted many of the words spoken came from places of frustration. But it is the job of board members is to listen to the public. Their own website states that board meetings are open to the public and public input is encouraged. So why the silencing?

Every year CCRLD receives approximately $400,000.00 tax dollars. We are fortunate to have those funds for our rural library. With that taxpayer gift comes the responsibility to listen even when words spoken are not supportive words. They stated the public is welcome to email the trustees. Which we have done for months.

The only reply we receive is: Thank you for the email – I’ve forwarded it to the board.

Since we receive no other response, we have no reason to believe that the emails are read.

Our library used to hear all voices. But that was when all the voices agreed with the board. Once voices of disagreement started, systematic silencing began culminating on 1/27/2020 when public commenting was removed from the agenda.

Words are no longer welcome from the public at CCRLD. This is happening in OUR LIBRARY, a county asset financed by OUR MONEY. The fact that it is even happening in a library is unconscionable! If this concerns you please email the CCRLD Board of Directors at: trustees@daytonml.org

Your words may not be heard but perhaps, if enough voices speak they will have no choice but to listen.

Vicki Zoller

Dayton, WA

 

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