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Concerned library patrons prepare to make their case before ACPL board

FORT WAYNE, IND. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – Wednesday night, a group behind a petition criticizing the Allen County Public Library’s leadership will try and make their case that the library is weeding at what the group’s leader calls an “alarming pace.”

The group is hoping to put an end to the current policy that deals with how they weed out the collection and discard books.

“I don’t think they fell short, I think they willfully chose not to share their new direction for the library with the public,” said Kim Fenoglio who helped draft the petition.

You’ll remember the Library Board of Trustees vowed to put that policy on hold until they could hold a meeting to meet with the petitioners.

We sat down, again, with Fenoglio who says she is planning on bringing several internal documents and emails to tomorrows meeting. That meeting will take place Wednesday night at 6:30.

Fenoglio hopes to show the Library Board of Trustees that officials with the library haven’t been as up-front as they could have been during this process.

For months now, the Fort Wayne’s NBC news team has been bringing the library weeding process into focus.

At one point library leadership sent out a document titled, ‘Where Have All the Books Gone? Myth vs. Fact.’

Fenoglio takes issue with one of the director’s facts which states: “The previous collection development policy was approved by the board in 1992. The criteria for discarding items has not been changed.”

Fenoglio disagrees and says it has been changed.

She showed us documents she says support that argument.

For example, she showed us meeting minutes from April of 2015.

In those minutes branch managers are told,  “the weed process is changing…. we will discard instead of weeding, and most material will go to the bookstore for sale.”

Fenoglio says, “Not only can we see that with our eyes, when we walk into branches or departments downtown. We also have her words, and the words of her administration in these internal documents we were given. It has been changed, and it was changed in November of 2014.”

Fenoglio also provided a record from the May 2018 library board meeting, which says a team has been “revising the existing Resource Development Policy approved in 1992, modernizing it… as a Collection Development Policy.”

She says changes now include doing away with “last copy procedures, allowing collection headquarters to implement quotas, and discarding books without weeding them first.”

Fenoglio says, “We have internal documents where staff was instructed to discard 25% of their collection. That was in 2016, so it’s not that far fetched of an idea that if in 2016 a quarter of the collection is gone, that in 2017 a third of the collection was gone.”

When asked about transparency last week a library spokesperson released a statement to Fort Wayne’s NBC which said in part,  “The board and staff have operated in an open and transparent manner with our customers, our community, and the media.”

Fenoglio says, “They [the library leadership] has been anything but transparent and continues to be anything but transparent.”

We requested an interview with Library Director Greta Southard Tuesday, but a library spokesperson told us “it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to speak a day before a public meeting.”

The spokesperson said she’d send us a statement. The statement she sent was attributed to the board and said: “The members of the Library’s Board of Trustees appreciate how passionate our community is about the Library and its collection.  We look forward to addressing concerns, answering questions, and hearing from the public at Wednesday evening’s meeting.”

Fort Wayne’s NBC will be at the meeting, and will update this story.   It will be held Wednesday March 27th in the Main Library Theater from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.

Kaitlyn Kendall

Kaitlyn Kendall anchors ABC21 news at 5 and is the chief investigative reporter for the stations Digging Deeper team.

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