The Burns Lake Public Library board has been taking action to address the recent staff resignations and local concerns.
Close to 80 people signed a petition seeking answers as two why two employees had resigned and a third went on leave. The petition was presented to the board Aug. 13.
According to library board president Hilda Earl, the board has recently hired Monika Willner as the new library director, and Roberta Hill as inter-library loans clerk. Both will begin their new duties in early September.
Earl said the board has been focusing its energy on filling the vacant positions and “making sure our library services are maintained to the high standard our patrons are used to.”
When it comes to the hiring of Susan Schienbein, who’s also a village councillor, Earl said there was no conflict of interest since the hiring committee that hired Schienbein did not include city clerk Rebecca Billard.
“I can confirm that Susan Schienbein is working on a contract basis temporarily on matters which do not include supervising staff or the day-to-day operations of the library,” said Earl. “Her involvement will end very soon and is temporary.”
Earl added that the board has not rejected suggestions to seek outside help.
“It was in fact the board that initiated a quest for outside assistance,” she told Lakes District News.
The library board has scheduled a Sept. 11 meeting as reports circulate of a communications failure between staffers and the board.
“I firmly believe that a failure to communicate in a sensitive, meaningful and positive way is largely responsible for the current crisis,” wrote Michael Riis-Christianson, a former library trustee and current village councillor who expressed his concerns in a letter to the editor published in the Aug. 15 issue of Lakes District News.
“The fact that two of these employees felt they had no recourse but to resign, and the third had to take leave, clearly indicates there is a serious problem at the Burns Lake Public Library,” Riis-Christianson wrote, adding that he knows the affected employees well, calling them dedicated to the library and its services.
Riis-Christianson said that the board must address all concerns as ultimately it is responsible to library association members as well as to the local governments who finance its operations.
“People are clearly upset about what has happened, and concerned about the organization’s future.”
- With files from Rod Link