Huntington residents upset over the firing of longtime librarians

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HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) Six longtime librarians in Huntington are being fired, now a group of community members are urging board members to rethink their decision.

Several of them sounded off at the library’s board meeting, Monday night. Some of those librarians listened as people in the community made emotional pleas to the board.

Trisha Everett, Caroline Runyan, and Deanna Albertson led the charge. All of them are moms whose children have grown up in the library. It has become a sort of tradition for this group: bringing their children to the library, picking out a few books, and chatting with some of their favorite librarians.

“My oldest is about to be an adult,” said Trisha Everett. “And from the time she was a baby, she was able to come in this library and feel safe and loved. They knew her name.”

Soon, those ladies who spent decades building relationships with generations of families will no longer be employed there. The Library’s Board of Directors decided to cut six positions and will replace them seven lower-paying positions. Most of those librarians who are being let go were part of the children’s program.

“These ladies are doing a fantastic job,” said Caroline Runyan. “I just think it’s wrong to just fire them and let them go without any warning.”

The public comment portion of the meeting was emotional. Not just for those librarians who lost their jobs, but also for those in the community who grew up with those librarians– knowing now that their children may no longer have that opportunity.

The librarians who attended the meeting did not address the board. They only listened as people in the community went up one by one asking that they be able to keep their jobs.

“These library employees are not speaking because they were told not to,” said one woman. “They’re staying silent but we won’t because we know these people matter. [They’re] terminating these employees throwing away decades and decades of experience. All to save some money.”

“I know I’m just one mom. But I’m like a lot of moms,” said Trisha Everett. “I believe that this children’s department has touched thousands of kids in this community.”

Executive Director Rebecca Lemons said there are some misconceptions about the decision to restructure those positions. Lemons said the decision was in the best interest of Huntington City Library.

“One of the big things I’m hearing from people is that we’re going to lose children’s programs,” she said “All of the sudden we’re going to stop teaching children to read? That’s just not the case. I wish that they could see our intentions are good and we’re not doing this to harm anybody. We just want to move the library forward.”

In fact, Lemons said they plan to add even more programs. Still, that group of moms is not convinced the library will thrive without six of its most dedicated employees.

“Our library is not corporate America,” said Deanna Albertson. “We’re a small community, they are our family.”

The board stuck by its decision to eliminate those positions. Those librarians who were fired will have the option to apply for the new positions.