Wardsboro Public Library staff resigns over reopening plans

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WARDSBORO — Library staff resigned after being at odds with the board of trustees over whether to open for in-person service during the coronavirus pandemic.

"In a nutshell, the three of us (staff) would not work in an 'open' library and would have liked to stay with 'curbside pickup' for the safety of patrons and staff," Jill Dean, director of the Wardsboro Public Library, wrote on the library's Facebook page on Monday. "Unfortunately, the trustees (Carol Fay, Sheri Lewis, Mark Fernandes and Bob Stupp) demand the library be open. So the library trustees will have to find someone who will work in an OPEN library."

Dean wrote that she still loves the library and thanked the community for their support. She plans to continue with curbside pickup on Mondays and Thursdays until her last day on Aug. 3.

Carol Backus, another library trustee, told the Reformer an emergency meeting is planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the library. An agenda includes discussion on the three resignations and future plans. Attendees are asked to wear masks.

Backus said she was returning to trustee work after dealing with a health issue and declined to share more information about the resignations. Attempts to reach other trustees were unsuccessful.

Reached by phone at the library Monday, Dean said she did not expect the meeting to change plans to reopen the library for in-person service. She declined to speak more about the issue.

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Jen Finaldi, the children's librarian who resigned, could not be immediately reached Monday. Nancy Dawson, the assistant librarian who resigned, declined to comment.

On Thursday, the trustees announced Dean's resignation on the library's website.

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"For many years Jill has provided library services to the community in a friendly and competent manner," the trustees said. "She became a public figure and valuable resource in her role at the library and for that we are grateful. She will be missed by many library patrons in the community."

Dean's decision to resign was likely a difficult one to make, the trustees said.

"We are in a challenging time with the Covid pandemic, therefore the library needs to be flexible and change in many ways we did not expect as we cope with this new environment," the trustees said. "We sincerely wish her success in whatever future endeavors she may pursue."

The trustees said they remain committed to their duty to safely and effectively provide library services. They are looking for a temporary staff member to keep providing curbside service and help prepare the library for reopening until a permanent replacement for Dean is found.

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On the library's Facebook page, Finaldi was described as a dedicated staff member who ran summer reading and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) programs at the library. She also was credited with grant writing and bringing in guest speakers for children.

Her "high energy and joyful spirit shines through, she is a true gem and we will miss her very much at our Library," the post states.

Community members responded to Dean's post about resignation with concern in the comments section.

"Seems an odd choice by the trustees: Push to open and lose the lifeblood of the library, or stick with the safer option of curbside pickup and keep the lifeblood," wrote Dave Meeker of Wardsboro. "The physical library is a terrific resource for the community, but the ladies who run it are what make it great. Without you, it's just a building with lots of book."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.


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