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Library defers vote on collection policy changes

April 26, 2019 GMT

MONROEVILLE - The Allen County Library Board of Trustees on Thursday deferred a vote on changes to the library’s collection development policy. 

The policy will likely be voted upon at the board’s May meeting. Questions raised by residents at a public hearing late last month are expected to be answered by the end of April.

“As a deliberative body, the board wants to make sure that they give adequate time and attention to issues they need to think about before they vote,” Library Director Greta Southard said, adding that the move is not uncommon.

The goal of the revised collection development policy, Southard said, is “to continue with the spirit of the policy as it’s always existed,” but seeks to clarify the language.

“There was language included in the prior revision that we thought clarified things and made it simpler just for everyone to understand, but we came to the realization that some people assigned one definition and terminology to a specific word and other people didn’t and so that created confusion,” Southard said. “Our intent is to make sure that the policy is clear.” 

However, Southard said the policy’s philosophy has not changed over time. 

“What has changed is operational practice and part of that problem is that we didn’t have operational practices actually written down,” Southard said. “When you’re operating through that oral tradition ... things get lost in translation. What we’re really trying to do is make sure we’ve got a solid plan going forward that everyone understands and can refer to and that makes sense.”

The library’s goal is to also develop a plan to understand and identify what unique items exist in the collection and how they need to be stored moving forward, Southard said, so that the library can identify items that need to be permanently retained. 

“Those are the things that we need to understand and so we’ve got a plan in place for how we’re going to do that,” Southard said. 

Some residents and library patrons have been upset and have expressed concerns over the library’s policies regarding the weeding of books from the collection. Concerns have been raised over the frequency, amount and types of books removed from circulation. Several of those residents were present at Thursday’s meeting, including one library employee who said others fear raising their concerns because they value their jobs. 

In an interview following the meeting at the Monroeville branch, Southard said that’s “a puzzlement to me.”

“People have always been encouraged to speak up, own their words, share,” Southard said. “But I will say there are times when staff aren’t necessarily very nice to each other in meetings and so it could be people aren’t comfortable speaking up.”