By Jason Emerson
In the wake of the state recently approving amendments to its founding charter, the Fayetteville Free Library Board of Trustees this week continued adjusting board operations by creating three new committees that will focus on specific issues, and by approving amendments to the library’s bylaws. These actions were part of the board’s continuing efforts to improve its management efficiency and effectiveness, said board co-Presidents David Wheeler and Randi Ludwig.
“We want to be the best board we can,” Ludwig said after the board’s Sept. 26 meeting.
“We are just doing all we can to [improve] — it’s all about the library,” Wheeler agreed.
The board’s new committees will be on audit and finance, facilities, and public relations, all large issue areas that will benefit by more focused attentions, the co-presidents said. The committee members will discuss issues pertaining to their specific subject matters and then bring information and recommendations for potential action back to the full board for consideration. All committee actions are subject to approval by a vote of the board.
The approved bylaw emendations include:
The most important bylaw change will be enlarging the library’s association area within which candidates may be selected to serve on the board of trustees, Executive Director Sue Considine has previously said. “This will allow us to cast our net to the larger F-M community to help us find excited and enthusiastic people interested in joining our board and helping to move our mission forward,” she said.
The amended bylaws were planned to be voted on by the board during its June meeting, but it was decided to wait until the state Board of Regents had made a decision on the charter amendments, Wheeler said.
The charter amendments, approved by the New York State Board of Regents during its Sept. 11 meeting, specified the number of trustees on the board, established trustee term lengths, eliminated outdated ex officio positions that no longer exist and aligned the library’s service area with specific state census tract numbers. These changes were also added to the bylaws.
While the committee creations and bylaw changes were done to help improve the board’s management of the library, they also were created in response to ongoing criticism by a small group of Fayetteville and Manlius residents who have been accusing the board of not acting in the library’s — or the taxpayers — best interests, both financially and administratively.
The five people who have been attacking the library board and administration for the past two years over alleged mismanagement attended the Sept. 26 meeting and continued their attacks. They admonished the board for its state-approved charter changes as well as its bylaw changes, and, among other things, demanded the changes be rescinded.
Resident Patti Knutsen specifically decried the change to the 1909 library charter that eliminated the need to have the two ex-officio members of the “president of the village of Fayetteville” and the “president of the Fayetteville Board of Education” on the FFL board — despite the fact that those two positions no longer exist within the village.
That charter change was a “brazen and deliberate effort to prevent informed public involvement,” Knutsen said.
On the other side of the argument, resident Marguerite Ross defended the library, the board and the administration, and said she was tired of “uncivil people” waging “accusations and personal attacks” at FFL officials.
“I don’t hold with waging such a campaign — it’s character assassination,” Ross said. “It has no place in our village.”
The next meeting of the FFL Board of Trustees is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.