Many seem not to care about poor state of city libraries
BY JOSH RESNEK
Mayor Carlo DeMaria is continuing his plan eviscerating the Everett Public Libraries by laying off all of its part-time employees.
Such a move at a time when the libraries could be used to disseminate information and to continue programs during the time of Coronavirus is a step in the wrong direction, according to those familiar with the workings of public libraries.
But why should we be surprised? The mayor who once proudly boasted that he went through four years at Northeastern University without ever setting foot in the “library” has embarked on a plan to make the Everett Public Libraries irrelevant, just like – in his opinion – the people that the libraries serve.
The libraries have been closed since March 15. The online possibilities have neither been explored nor implemented by the mayor and his management staff during the virus crisis.
The first step in the mayor’s Machiavellian plan was to reorganize the governance structure of the libraries and take control away from an appointed Board of Trustees (in most cases, people who actually use libraries and know what they are for) and place it under his direct control.
This being accomplished, the newly named and reorganized Board of Trustees no longer has any responsibility for the management of the libraries and their role has been relegated to deciding how to spend the interest generated by the Parlin Trust. And, of course, the members of the Libraries’ Board of Trustees, still continue to collect the $2,000 per year stipend for serving on the Board.
In addition, a number of local library advocates believe that the mayor’s appointments to the library trustees of family members, who are collecting their annual stipend for doing, essentially, nothing constitutes a conflict of interest or violation of the prohibition on nepotism here.
Library buildings throughout the state are closed, but library services are still running – but not at Everett’s two public libraries.
The Parlin and Shute libraries have been rendered useless and shut down entirely because of the Coronavirus crisis.
The failure to hire a certified librarian to head the institutions is also believed to be part of the problem with a lack of direction from the library’s present leadership contributing to the problem as well.
In many other communities throughout the state, public libraries are being used in a variety of creative ways with community programming to ensure that residents can still participate in educational and entertaining programs while the stay-at-home order and social distancing are in place.
According to the Massachusetts Library Association, more than 300 libraries across the state are turning to virtual library services to their patrons.
For instance, a recent MBLC Blog posted, “Don’t get bored: Seven things for North Andoverites to try online via Stevens Memorial Library.”
After receiving a $400,000 windfall from a former Everett resident who bequeathed the money to the Parlin Library, the question remains, who will spend it and how will it be doled out?
The mayor taking credit for the donation is fake news, as the donation was known to be coming by most of the former library officials and its trustees for more than a year – long before the mayor removed the chief librarian and made appointments of family members and a Wellness Center employee accused of sexual harassment to the Board of Trustees in order to snuff out the library’s independence and to bring it under mayoral rule.
The library is not run by a certified librarian.
It is run by Assistant City Solicitor Matt Lattanzi. “I’ve never been inside a library,” the mayor has been famously quoted as saying.
He has about as much interest in the public library system here as he does in women’s rights, claim those who know him well.
Under the mayor’s rule, Trustees now receive a stipend.
Trustees refused to do so in the past.
Two Trustees are the mayor’s family or related to his family.
Another Trustee, an employee of the city at the Wellness Center, has recently resigned.
Questions have arisen about the legality of the mayor appointing family members and city employees to serve as Trustees, that it might tend to create a conflict of interest.