“It has been very hard on everything we do.”
Tillamook County Library Director Sara Charlton requested that the Board of Commissioners approve hiring of a full-time library assistant.
Shiela Zerngast, library board member, read a letter to the Commissioners detailing that the lack of staff has made it nearly impossible to cover shifts for sickness or vacation, managers are not able to cover desk shifts, and the continuation of this, she speculated, may lead to negative staff moral due to inconvenient schedules.
“As a County, we are all a family…we’re all doing more with less,” Commissioner David Yamamoto, and liaison to the library, said. “This is a management issue of moving people around to cover your busiest days. Is this hard work? Yes. I shouldn’t be at the library micromanaging when people work. For two years, I have not come to you, Sara. This is the first time I’ve come to you and asked you to cut staff. I’m disappointed that we’re coming back and having this discussion. I really am.”
For this fiscal year, Yamamoto asked the library to make a 10 percent budget cut because the library budget predictions saw that they would be $100,000 in the red by year five of the library’s levy.
“I don’t understand if there is money in the library budget, why the position isn’t being filled,” asked Ruth LaFrance, library board member.
Suggestions from County staff suggested increasing library staff with 30 hours and benefits, to 40 hours and benefits.
But, Charlton clarified that those staff members are primarily at branches and the logistics of having them work their addition hours in Tillamook would not be efficient.
“We all learn to do more with less, that’s all I’m asking of the library,” Commissioner Yamamoto said. “People think I want the library to close, that’s not the case. I love the libraries.”
Commissioner-elect Mary Faith Bell suggested that the library and Commissioners consider hiring a part-time library assistant, instead of full-time.
“A half time position would help quite a bit,” Charlton said. “Right now, we’re short on Mondays and Saturdays in the evening. And a half-time position would help us fill the gaps. I’m concerned about safety and the work not being done.”
The Commissioner unanimously voted in favor of hiring a part-time library assistant.
“I don’t want people to get the impression that we’re anti-library,” Commissioner Bill Baertlein said. “What we’re looking at here is the three year projections in that the library is actually spending more than it’s bringing in tax revenue…We have to be aware of the actions we take now will have reactions three or four years from now. This is not supposed to be an attack on the library. This is a look at the finances in the future.”
The position will be 19 hours a week at the main Tillamook Library. The position is currently listed on the County website.