Get the FCL Community Survey Results released!

Who Are You?
I'm a former librarian at Farmington Community Library (FCL), and one of many parties concerned by a lack of transparency from the appointed Library Board and the current Director.

What's Going On? (The Short Version)

TLDR: Currently, the Library Board is making long-term decisions about how tax-payer dollars are being spent based on a flawed survey, and they have yet to make the results of that survey public. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has been filed, but we are being charged an excessive fee to have the results.  We believe  that  if the Board is going to make financial decisions based on this survey, the public should have access to that information.

What's Going On? (The LONG Version)

The Backstory
When the library shut down in March, staff were quick to adapt. Librarians worked remotely, ordering materials and working on shifting library programs to an online space.  Other staff worked on professional development, building their skills for when the library would reopen.  The Library Board agreed that everyone would continue to be paid -- including the pages, who's primary job of shelving and retrieving items could not be done remotely.  It felt as if everyone was on the same team.

Then on April 23rd , during a special session to vote on an HR module,  the board abruptly decided to furlough all employees with less than 24 hours notice. It's approaching 6 months now - there are still employees who do not know if the library ever intends to recall them.

A Lack of Trust
The furlough is emblematic of an ongoing lack of trust between library staff and the Library Board.  When staff questioned the reasoning for the furlough during open comments, answers ranged from "we couldn't verify staff was working" to "we needed to budget for big projects" (even though said projects had already been budgeted for).  The Board communications to staff were not encouraging , as they focused more on cutting costs than addressing employee concerns. Given that one of the most vocal board members, Bill Largent, has privately expressed animosity for staff  and publicly stood by those statements , you can understand why staff would fear that the pandemic was being used as an excuse to drastically cut positions.

The Survey
During this time, the Library Board hired the services of Cynthia Pepper of Pepper Consulting to do a community assessment survey  for $8,000-$10,000.  Pepper Consulting had no prior experience working with libraries or with community assessment - already concerning. Her connection to Bill Largent , in that she contributed to his failed State Rep campaign ,  is deeply suspicious.  But more importantly, the survey that was conducted was deeply flawed.  Some of the issues include:
    -it was only available online
    -single users could take the survey multiple times
    -questions that ask for a single answer to multiple questions
    -no place to report demographic information (ie. age, race)
    -confusing, library-specific terms

In light of these survey-specific flaws and the overall suspicious context, it seems necessary to get the information and let the public interpret for themselves. The library board has already received Pepper Consulting's report: the public should have it as well. 

How Will My Money Be Used?
The funds collected here will be used to directly pay the $680 fee that the Library is charging us to receive the community survey results. The FOIA coordinator says that they need to pay a law office to go through the 2,100 responses to determine "the exempt from the non-exempt information".  We will then share that information with the Farmington and Farmington Hills community.

Why GoFundMe?
In the big scheme of things, $680 might not seem like a lot. But in these more chaotic times, it's a lot for a single person to handle alone. When you support this campaign,  you're saying several things:

     1) I want transparency in my local organizations and officials
     2) I support access to information
     3) I support Farmington Community Library

Last Thoughts?
If you have gotten this far, thank you.  Your support matters to all of us - to the library staff who are overworked, to the furloughed employees still in limbo, to those of us who left for other opportunities, and to the community who deserves more. 

If you are interested in getting more involved or learning more about what's going on, you can join the Restore the Farmington Community Library page on Facebook .


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Madeline Lank 
Royal Oak, MI

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