Negative events of the past few years (2015-2107) at the Berkeley Public Library awoke the public to the need for much better oversight of how the library is administered, culminating in the dismissal of two non-performing members of the Board Of Library Trustees (BOLT), and a much improved awareness of the criticality of library-related issues on the part of the members of the Berkeley City Council.
The bottom line is that none of this would have been achieved without significant public interest and pressure, so a hearty “Thank You” to all who engaged in the process and pressed for Justice to be done.
The price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance, of course, and public attention to how the library is maintained and administered can never wane, or we will find ourselves with another mess. In essence there does not need to be a “Board of Trustees” if we, interested members of the public, undertake to impose a system of accountability where those responsible for library administration must answer to the public in an open forum.
This website is founded for that purpose. This site is intended to be the clearinghouse where members of the public can raise issues and where answers given by Library Administration will be posted. In brief, our (the public’s) wishlists and complaints will be aired here, and we will report here what is done and not done in response. Things that don’t get fixed will glaringly stand out here as unfixed and we will see for how long things do not get fixed, so that the administrators of the library will forever be in the glare of headlights, and learn to behave accordingly. The site will be adversarial only to the extent that administration of the library is not performed smoothly and adequately; the hope is that this “oversight site” will become a whetstone whereby library administration does quickly converge to smooth and adequate operation.
Not everyone can get everything they want. Finances and feasibility will always limit what can be done. What is hoped is that Library Administration will set forth its positions here – what compromises were made and why; and that the administrators will be willing to engage in debate here, and be willing to hear and consider alternative proposals from citizens posting here. If in time it is seen that this site functions as well as BOLT for BOLT’s purposes, BOLT can vote to dissolve itself (and being a non-elective body, should look forward to doing so.)
The general rule is civility. Attacks on policy and reasoning can be made without pejoratives and ad-hominems. The great fond hope is that this site and what it accomplishes will stand as a great example to the rest of the country as to how Civil Service can be made to properly serve the public – so please behave yourselves accordingly.
Any Berkeley resident, library patron, library staffer, city councilmember or library administrator can have an account on this site to post content and comments; send an email to bpl [at] transbay.net to request an account. Account holders who engage in destructive behavior will lose their access.