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Friday, September 20, 2013

Support Your Local Library . . . and the Good People Who Work There


Though this incident didn’t take place in Contra Costa County, but rather at a public library in Hudson Falls, New York, I wanted to share what happened to a young boy who won a local reading contest and a library aide known to all the kids as “Gram.”

Nine-year-old Tyler Weaver won the annual “Dig into Reading” contest by reading 63 books. When his mother asked the local paper to report on his accomplishment, the paper contacted the library director Marie Gandron for a quote. And that’s when the trouble began. Gandron, up in arms about Tyler winning the contest for an unprecedented five times, stated that “Tyler hogs the contest every year and . . . should step aside.”

To participate in the program, children were required to read 10 books in a six-week period. Tyler’s 63 books made him the clear winner. But rather than come up with a idea that would incentivize all young readers, an upset Gandron wanted to change the rules so that the contest winner would be determined by pulling a name from a hat.

Thinking fair is fair, Lita Casey, aka Gram, an aide who had worked at the library for 28 years, went to bat for Tyler. Unfortunately, her coming to his defense caused her to be fired by the library board. Now isn’t that sad? Why would the board want to get rid of someone who loved her work and the children she helped? And why would they want to penalize a little boy who obviously loved to read? Instead, they both should have been applauded for their accomplishments.

I just wanted to present a cautionary tale about what can go wrong at a library. We are fortunate in Contra Costa County to have an incredible library system with many valuable programs for the public to take advantage of. Maybe the good folks on the library board in Hudson Falls should take a look at how things are being done here at the Contra Costa Country Library.


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