Community should ask about direction at Hoag Library

Posted 31 October 2014 at 12:00 am


The Hoag Library is a pillar of the community and symbolic for learning and developing. I am writing to inform the community at large who is served by the Hoag Library about some basic facts of interest for citizens and, hopefully, patrons of the library.

The Hoag Library is chartered as a “Cooperative” library, also known as a Free Association Library. This designation is one of three different types of public libraries allowed under New York State law. The key feature of this type of library is independence.

As an association, the Hoag Library is owned and managed by a non-profit organization, chartered by the New York State Board of Education, not by a municipal government or school district. Further information can be found on the New York State library website (click here).

Elected members of the Hoag Library Board of Trustees should be able to address and answer inquiries about the bylaws of this cooperative association and the authority by which they oversee the Hoag Library, including personnel and budget decisions.

While voters give elected officials the privilege to serve the community and represent the people, the Board of Trustees has an obligation to the community to be transparent in their governance and be held accountable to all the citizens and the community in which they serve.

Five staff members, including the director, have been terminated within the past six months. The experience, stability and knowledge of this tenured staff spanned 130 years. They were loyal to their customers, directors and Board of Trustees (current and previous) and certainly were familiar and helpful to any patron who visited the library. They will be missed by many, and a void of institutional knowledge and history is now gone. My challenge to you is “who is courageous enough to ask, ‘Why?'”

Complacency is the act of being pleased and satisfied with decisions that are being made for you and not wanting to make them better. If you say nothing with these decisions, then you are in silent agreement with the decisions.

If citizens are not satisfied with the actions of the Board, they are encouraged to attend the Hoag Library Board of Trustees meetings, which are held the second Wednesday of every month and provide their public comments. The minutes of these meetings are published on the library website (click here).

The bottom line is that because the Hoag Library is an association library, taxpayers can vote specifically to support the library to best serve the community. Is the Board listening to you and are they hearing your concerns and opinions? Is the Board taking the library in the direction that best serves this community? Is there transparency in their governance, and are they held accountable for their actions?

All Hoag Library Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public. All meetings begin at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at the library. The next scheduled meeting is Nov. 12.

Mary Anne Braunbach
Braunbach is a former library trustee and is currently president of the Friends of the Library.