Minutes for Feb. 13, 2017

Present: Cindy Binzen, Curt Albee, Rachel Kurland, Marty Frank, Rebecca Seibel, Carol Wilson, Miriam Newman, David Webb (for the Friends)

Minutes of the January meeting were approved.

Librarian’s Report: Rebecca reported that scanning capability has been added to the printer and the monitor of one of the public access computers has been replaced and upgraded. Bob Bauer will be holding a meditation group on Tuesday evenings. Paperwork has been submitted to the Secretary of State’s office to keep the library in good graces with the state. An application for a new round of grant money has been submitted to the Turrell Foundation although  Rebecca cautioned that receiving approval may be more difficult because of the organization’s current emphasis on supporting programs that can provide quantifiable evidence of the benefits of whatever programming is being supported. Rebecca will be away on vacation from March 27 to April 3.

Friends Report: David reported that the Friends have added two new members to its board — Kemba Russell and Mary Newman. The Friends’ next meeting is May 3.

Treasurer’s Report: Rachel reported that the library is in good financial shape and distributed the most recent budgetary statement.

Building Use Policy: The recent request by a town resident to leave buttons to be distributed to people planning to attend a recent demonstration in Montpelier — one rejected because a majority of the board thought it was in conflict with the library’s policy of not making the library available for partisan purposes — raised questions about whether that policy should be changed. Miriam believes the current policy, which makes the building available to Strafford residents and organizations for noncommercial and nonpartisan purposes, is in conflict with the the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights. The ALA policy "affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas,” that they should provide "materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues,” and that "materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”

The board focused on two applications of the building use policy — 1. who can use the building and for what purposes; and 2. what sort of literature and information should be allowed to be distributed at the library.

Research by Miriam and Rebecca indicates some variation among libraries, but that most allow local nonprofit organizations to use their buildings for noncommercial purposes, including political ones, with the stipulation that the library is not acting as sponsor. Many libraries allow the distribution of political and advocacy literature and information, but some draw the line at activities that cross the line into solicitation (such as leaving petitions in a library).

The board reached a consensus that the library’s building use policy should be brought into conformance with the ALA’s recommendations and that the library should make itself available for all uses, except commercial ones. Space for the distribution of literature can be provided in the front entrance, either where the old card catalogue now sits unused or near where books are displayed for sale. 

Next meeting will be March 13.

Submitted by Marty Frank