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Library's future rests where it belongs; on the board

September 14, 2022

While the Boundary County Library Board got a reprieve from Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP) at their Tuesday board meeting, being granted a new 90-day policy that goes into effect when the one now in force expires September 31, chair Bob Blanford and former interim director Sandy Ashworth did not leave Boise unscathed, as the ICRMP board gave harsh review of the library board's laissez-faire management practices and gave until the next ICRMP board meeting in October to see progress or face losing its liability policy December 31.

It wasn't the tort claims or the controversies now surrounding the library that prompted ICRMP to file notice of non-renewal of the library's policy, but an unacceptable loss ratio in library claims, attributed, for the most part, to the library board, all volunteers, not effectively doing the work it owed the public. Of concern, a lack of personnel and risk management policies, employee job descriptions operating procedures and other essential documentation. Of not knowing what was going on until too late, of not seeking ICRMP counsel and services when it should, of not heeding that counsel when it did.

When asked what the library was doing to remedy the shortcomings, Blanford explained that a Coeur d'Alene human resources firm was contracted three months ago to develop those documents and keep the library up to speed. Beyond saying some policies had been adopted, he couldn't say which. The former director, Kimber Glidden, had been tasked to handle that, nor could he give a timeline or terms of the contract, those details, too, had been delegated to Glidden, who signed the contract on behalf of the board.

"Why doesn't anyone on the board know what was going on?" one member of the ICRMP board asked. "The board should have been more involved in communication with the director and staff."

When asked if an attempt had yet been made to find a new director following Glidden's notice of resignation, Blanford said that the board had one candidate for interim director, but was just beginning its search to fill the position, $50,000 per year, depending on experience.

Another member of the ICRMP board recommended that the library board hold off on hiring a director until it figured out its policies and procedures, lest it bring someone else on board without clear policies or guidance. To hire before, he said, "was setting that person up for failure."

"The library worked well until 2016," one ICRMP board member said, "and now we have this unacceptably high loss ratio. We need to get it back as it was from 1995 to 2016. We need to see a committment from the board that it won't delegate."

Blanford, who only recently became chair following the death of Judith Mace, admitted he has a lot to learn and said he is willing to do what is necessary to keep the Boundary County Library open.

"The board doesn't know what's going on and hasn't known what's going on," an ICRMP board member said. "They hired an HR firm months ago and have no idea what they're doing. They have a contract they haven't seen."

ICRMP has given the Boundary County Library Board a once in a lifetime chance. It will require honesty and openness, attributes denied the community so far.

"God bless you for being a volunteer," Blanford was told. "This is not personal, but a matter of public trust."

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

It appears there may have been policy issues with the Library Board; but if there was not an aggressive anti library board group ready and eager to file a lawsuit, the ICRMP would not likely feel their coverage was at any potential liability.

The library board members are volunteers, who I think try to do a good job. They are up against a highly motivated group of protesting, litigious jerks. Some of whom seek political and monetary gain from their actions. They are playing for the Redoubt vote and encouraging more alt right Redoubters to move here. The Library Board made some errors -the Redoubters are unfortunately able to take advantage of it.

I understand that legal issues sometimes look at intent. The Library Board intends to do good – the alt righters intend to do harm to our community.
Don Jordan
Bonners Ferry
Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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