Why would we believe what the Timberland library staff wrote in their letter to the editor? Let me recap.
In 2018, Cheryl Heywood, Timberland’s director, authorized the completion of a Capital Facilities Plan. She started implementing this plan, which included closing rural libraries, starting with the Mountain View Library in Randle. The trustees knew nothing about the plan. The Chronicle did an extensive investigation of Cheryl Heywood and the proposal and informed us of the secrecy and deceptiveness of the director. Randle citizens protested loudly. Their protests stopped the Mountain View closure.
Several of us citizens went to a number of Timberland Library Board meetings in Tumwater, along with Edna Fund, to hold Heywood and the Board of Trustees accountable and to fight the closures of our rural libraries. At the same time, it was Heywood’s evaluation period. The trustees gave her a poor evaluation. But she said she was “sorry” so they continued to employ her.
Our library board trustees for Lewis County never supported our interests in Lewis County, the taxpayers. They only supported the director. Every time we spoke, at every meeting, they were mute. It broke our hearts that our trustee representatives did not care about us. Their loyalties were elsewhere. The Board of Trustees and the Director did not follow their mission statement of integrity; transparency; accountability; clear communications; building public trust.
Again, why would we believe the Timberland library staff? Benda Hirschi, Timberland trustee at the time and who wrote the informative letter to the editor, was the one trustee we had respect for. Listen to her. She knows what she is talking about.
Several of us feel Heywood is not closing the libraries, but simply downgrading them. We have talked with other Lewis County residents, before the Covid-19 restrictions. Concerns included downgrading the professional staff in the small Lewis County libraries.
Is checking books in and out the only thing that matters? We also need qualified employees that know how to access research and the library system.
The Chronicle needs to do another investigation.