Stanley M. Siegel is the executive director of the East Norwalk Association / East Norwalk Association Library
To the Editor:
On Wednesday, March 2, at 7 p.m., the Third Taxing District Commissioners, at their planned annual meeting, will present the “Master Plan” for the East Norwalk Association Library – with the Plan, too, being posted on the TTD website: www.ttd.gov.
The Plan was prepared by the consultant selected by the Commissioners – Alex Cohen, of Aaron Cohen Associates.
There is very little in that Plan that I can subscribe to. Knowing the East Norwalk Association Library, its constituents, and the East Norwalk community at large, and having been the Executive Director of the library for the past 8 years, there are two statements contained in the Plan that I must expose as being inflammatory, personally abhorrent, defaming of character and false – to wit:
1. “The appreciation for the Library staff and volunteers was apparent throughout the study. However, we must note that the Executive Director reduced the value that our team could provide: by either not participating or by resisting any and all suggestions.”
2. “You have good staff. … But it is time to find employees with the requisite skills and attitude to disrupt the ENA’s traditional model. That is our recommendation.”
Again, these statements, contained within the Plan, are false, plain and simple. And worse, not only were these falsehoods contained within the published Plan, this defamation was reported in the media.
As to my “qualification” to challenge these statements, in particular, and the gist of the Plan itself, I have been, and am, deeply steeped in the city of Norwalk, and state of Connecticut library world for more than the past 10 years. I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Norwalk Public Library in 2004 – and was subsequently awarded “Trustee of the Year” by the Association of Connecticut Library Boards. I served the Norwalk Public Library Board as a member, then as its secretary, and had been its president for the past 6 years.
I was an active member of the Connecticut Library Association and served on its Membership Committee. I served, too, as president of the Association of Connecticut Library Boards and as a liaison member of the Friends of Connecticut Libraries. I, presently, serve as a member of the Connecticut State Library Advisory Council for Library Planning and Development representing small Connecticut libraries from our area.
As to the consultant’s statement in his Plan – that I reduced the value by either not participating or by resisting any and all suggestions, quite the contrary – when asked, I answered, although, plainly, my “answers” did not fit the predetermination of what “our” library should be compared to, the preconceived model the Plan was built upon. And the premise that our staff – who I am privileged to oversee – as stated in the Plan: “… it is time to find employees with the requisite skills and attitude to disrupt the ENA’s traditional model. That is our recommendation.”
This recommendation states that the Library’s “traditional model” needs to be disrupted. In other words, throw out the “baby” with the “bathwater” even though there is no case that can be made that the East Norwalk Association Library has not, does not and cannot serve its community despite its 100-year history of doing so. And we have many cardholder/user/community surveys that prove our usefulness and adaptability to changing needs.
Short of taking this aggrandizement to legal action, I bow to the power of the press to expose these false, misleading, unprofessional, harmful statements – let alone the value of the Plan itself which cost the Electors $20,000 (not counting the time spent by the Commissioner’s, Library Planning Committee members, Library staff, and others).
Stanley M. Siegel
East Norwalk Association / East Norwalk Association Library