Thursday, January 28, 1999

Ed board
adopts library
reorg plan

Vacancies in the state
libraries would not be cut, but
staffed with temporary employees

By Crystal Kua


Out with the old, in with the new.

That was the sentiment yesterday at a school board committee meeting where an old reorganization plan for the state libraries was scrapped in favor of a new one.

"It's no longer supportive of the direction I believe we need to go," said state Librarian Virginia Lowell, referring to the old plan, which also did not have the support of library staff.

"We're very much for discarding the old and creating something new," said Deborah Gutermuth, a Kaneohe reference librarian and president of the Librarians Association of Hawaii. "We don't like the way it sits right now."

The Public Libraries Committee voted yesterday to rescind the old plan, which was implemented by now-departed state Librarian Bart Kane but never formally adopted by the Board of Education, and discussed Lowell's reorganization plan.

Kane's plan came about in 1995 at a time when cuts were being made to the library system's budget.

As a result of his transferring employees to fill gaps and cutting vacant positions, some behind-the-scenes services central to all libraries, such as the processing of books and other library materials, suffered so that front-line positions that directly affected service to the public could be staffed.

Lowell said it appeared Kane did not dismantle services just for the sake of dismantling them, but rather he made decisions designed to balance the budget, keep libraries open and staffed, and prevent layoffs.

"All those decisions back then seemed to have been made purely for dollars," Lowell said.

She said her plan still seeks to move employees to different positions to fulfill the needs of libraries -- such as staffing new libraries like the one in Princeville on Kauai and strengthening technical services once again.

But she said the biggest difference between the old and the new will be that she won't be cutting vacant positions but instead will be staffing them with temporary employees.

She told committee members that the reorganization will take about a year to complete.

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