THE ISSUE For the past few months, confusion and debate over the possibility of the new library has led Smyrna Town Council to do some research and take a stance in the future of the library in town.
In August, Councilwoman Regina Brown and Councilman Jeff Flairty asked Town Manager Dave Hugg to draft a resolution based on the observation and comments made during a previous library workshop. This resolution was tabled during the Aug. 15 town council meeting so Town Council could get input from other involved groups such as the Smyrna Public Library Guild and the Library Advisory Board.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN Town Council voted during their Sept. 6 council meeting to take the resolution off the table. After some further discussions, Town Council unanimously approved the amended resolution.
By passing the resolution, Town Council voted to “eventually relinquish providing library services, in favor of having the Guild erect a new facility and a non-profit, independent entity prepare for and assume responsibility for full operation and maintenance of the new regional library facility.”
Town Council came to the decision as there is a need for a new library based on a previous needs assessment but the town is unable to support a new facility and operate it because of the current financial conditions in the town.
The resolution basically provides a checklist of items that need to be taken care of should a new library be built including staff, donations and books.
There was some concern with the resolution stating the library should be within the Smyrna School District region and with future employment of current library staff.
“I think it’s important we protect our town employees and make sure their future employment is properly handled,” Flairty said, “and I think everyone here wants it in the town.”
A main concern of other council members included the topic of future employment of current library staff. The resolution states the town will take all necessary actions for the transfer of current library employees to the new library.
Councilwomen Joanne Masten and Valerie White were both concerned with the inclusion of future employment in the resolution.
“I know it’s important to protect the staff of the current library but does that necessarily mean there may be a person in a certain staff position who will be guaranteed that same position or maybe they will be guaranteed a position that more closely matches their skill set?” Masten asked.
Page 2 of 2 - While White believes the town would do anything in their power to assist with the transfer of current employees, she was worried the resolution would bind the town.
“Basically what this says, this is a set of steps, a checklist if you will, of the things that need to be resolved and dealt with in the eventual acquisition of library services by a successor organization including determination of what happens to employees,” Hugg said, “It does not presume in any way that they will stay in their existing capacity nor does it presume that they wouldn’t find employment in some other existing position.”
Flairty also pointed out the resolution states the town is not bound to any financial responsibilities including site acquisition or operational expenses.
One of the more significant parts of the resolution, Hugg said, is that it spells out the town’s fiduciary and custodial responsibilities for donations and bequests specifically o the Smyrna Public Library.
“There have been funds that have been made specifically to the Smyrna Public Library as a part of a will so there needs to be a way to deal with those,” Hugg said.
WHAT’S NEXT The resolution will work as checklist so the town needs to go through the list to make sure everything is properly transferred such as donations and employment.
All the while, Guild president Jen Merrill later said they will continue to work on securing an agreement on an appropriate piece of land, fundraising and putting together community events such as their Delaware Collectibles Auction in October.
“Passage of the town’s resolution is a big step in the right direction for coordinating the efforts of the Town, the Library Guild, the town’s Library Advisory Board,” Merrill said, “I’m thankful we have a Town Council who recognizes the need of our community for more services, computers, books and programs that a new library can bring and they have shown their support for our efforts.”
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.