Northeast Town librarian and board chair resign, after Town librarian accuses municipal council of systematic neglect of township services

New Little Current Library librarian Jake Marion with his wife Jessica Marion.

LITTLE CURRENT—In the wake of controversy and claims that the Little Current library is being neglected and underfunded by the municipality, head librarian Jake Marion has handed in his resignation and library board chair Karen Nesbitt has resigned from her position.

Mr. Marion told The Expositor that he decided to resign after the library board made a resolution expressing their lack of support for him and his efforts to obtain what he felt is needed funding to maintain services at the library.

The resolution, which was carried at a special board meeting on September 21, reads, be it ‘resolved that the library board expresses its sincere regret over the premature and unauthorized budget awareness activities exercised by its CEO and the adverse consequences of those activities for the community.”

The Expositor attended the special meeting, which was held while Mr. Marion was away at a conference, and was asked to leave as the board entered into a closed session to discuss matters pertaining to an identifiable individual. The Expositor followed up with the board chair but was told no motions were passed when the board resumed its open meeting.

A second resolution was also carried during the open meeting portion of the September 21 meeting which read, “that the board chair, the vice-chair and Ned Martin meet with the CEO to review the objectives of his recent budget awareness activities and the respective roles of the board and staff.”

Earlier this fall Mr. Marion met with town staff and spoke to The Expositor, expressing that he felt that the library needs more municipal funding to maintain the current level of services it offers and also advocating for wage increases, benefits and sick days for his staff.

He listed the aging computers, microfilm reader printer and lack of children’s and seniors’ programs as some of the problems and added that provincial library funding is to drop in the future, which will create further problems at the library. As well, he claimed that the Little Current library is underfunded compared to municipalities smaller in size.

Council reviewed a report prepared by town staff that addressed the statements from Mr. Marion and council carried a motion which read, “Whereas the Little Current Public Library CEO’s presentation to the Taxpayers Association of September 8, 2016, stated that the Library is non-compliant with current legislation and suffering from systematic neglect; and whereas that same presentation stated that current library services are in jeopardy and will not be provided in the future; and whereas several erroneous statements were made that reflect badly on the library board and its ability to oversee the affairs of the library; now therefore be it resolved that the Northeast Town council request the board chair attend the next regular meeting of council to clarify the issues and provide council with assurances that the necessary steps are being taken by the board to address the issues of non-compliance, systematic neglect, service sustainability and ineffective governance.”

Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin attended the Tuesday, October 4 board meeting.

At the meeting, the board reviewed Mr. Marion’s resignation and accepted it, as well as Ms. Nesbitt’s, noting in the motion for Ms. Nesbitt’s resignation that the board “accepted Ms. Nesbitt’s resignation as board chair with regrets.”

Mr. Marion noted that his last day would be November 26.

The library board appointed Ned Martin as the new board chair. The board also carried a motion to strike a transition planning committee consisting of Mr. Martin, vice chair Maureen Armstrong and Mr. Marion to draft a transition plan in lieu of Mr. Marion’s resignation. A separate hire committee will be formed in the near future.

The next meeting of the Little Current Public Library board will be held on Tuesday, November 1 at 4 pm in the library boardroom.