Less space ‘untenable’ says library official
Editor’s note: The forced downsizing of the Pamlico County Library has created quite a furor in recent weeks.
Monday night, library official Ben Bowditch addressed the Pamlico County Board of Commissioners. Here are his remarks, continued to Page B-12 where readers can also see the written ultimatum, dated March 13, from John Potter, Chairman of the Pamlico County Board of Education.
BAYBORO – My name is Ben Bowditch. I have the honor of representing Pamlico County on the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library Board of Trustees, and I serve as chairman of that board.
As you know, we were directed to turn over the space – which housed the Children’s Room in the library – to the high school for its exclusive use. We engaged a consultant to help us redesign the remaining 80 percent of the usable space. Although the Public Library has occupied half of that space since 1978, and the other half since 2009, we were required to vacate the Children’s Room in just six weeks – before we had the consultant’s recommendations.
Library management was not consulted regarding the ramifications of the decision, nor about the scheduling of the move. School personnel were helpful in moving our belongings out of the Children’s Room; however, the rest of the relocation work was done by library staff and volunteers – with a valuable assist from county staff thanks to County Manager Tim Buck. Very tough duty, in my opinion, for librarian Kat Clowers, children’s librarian Fran Benninger (who had conducted Story Time for four generations of Pamlico pre-school children in that room) and the rest of the staff and volunteers.
Enough of the unpleasant past! What does the future hold for our library?
The Pamlico County Public Library receives operational funding from citizens of the county via the Commissioners’ budgeting process. We are grateful to the Commissioners, and the citizens, for their continuing support in this regard. We need suitable space from which to render services to our patrons. It is our understanding that the county does not have the wherewithal to provide that space in another location, so we have to stay where we are. Given the way that events of this year have unfolded – coupled with statements from school representatives that they want even more dedicated space in the library – we feel that the library is in an untenable position going forward.
We have asked our counsel to research the ownership and leasing arrangements for the building, so that we may determine how to go about seeking a lease or other agreement, which assures us that we may continue using the space free from further encroachment by the school. It makes no sense for the county, or the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Region, to make public library investments in the space without that assurance.
I am here to ask you, our Commissioners, and the citizens of Pamlico County to support our efforts to assure that the county has a viable public library. Thank you.
‘Ultimatum’ letter from Pamlico County Board of Education: