The Pember Board’s February meeting available to the public over Zoom was short and quick but packed an informative punch.
Pember chair Mary King opened the meeting by addressing the comments made by community member John Freed at the end of the board’s January meeting, which she described as a “rant.”
Initially, King advised the board she planned on writing a letter to Freed informing him that he would no longer be welcome to attend Pember board meetings, virtual or in-person. However, she said, she would have to contact the Southern Adirondack Library System to see if this sort of motion could be enforced and allowed.
“It was not constructive, it was not anything other than offensive,” King said of Freed’s comments last month.
King said in response to Freed when he inquired if he could speak to the board that the board has never really had a public open section of the meeting for community members who wanted to express their concerns or opinions.
“We don’t really do this, we’ve never had one asked to be perfectly honest,” she said. “Let me put it to the board.”
Freed’s seven-minute address expressed his frustration with the board for declining their Freedom Of Information Law request and appeal in a search for information related to the recently discussed elevator addition.
Freed then described a timeline of events to the board in case some board members didn’t know what they were talking about.
“If any board member is unaware of the preceding events, then I suggest you may have an internal communication problem where information is not being disseminated as it should be,” Freed said. “One of the key reasons of having a board of directors is to have a group of people collectively directing a business or non-profits’ affairs, to have multiple sets of eyes reviewing the business at hand.”
After his statement, Freed did not ask the board any questions and did not receive a reply from the board, and the meeting adjourned.
Board member Jerry McKinney reworded King’s statement at the February meeting to say that the sort of behavior from any member of the public who adresses a board must be “polite” and “professional.”
McKinney then suggested to the board that rather than completely ban someone from attending a meeting, the moderator of the virtual meeting or chair of the board should have the executive power to mute their microphone over Zoom if their comments get out of hand or do not provide constructive criticism in a respectful manner.
Board member Gisele Zeitler spoke from home on how she believed the board should address a similar situation if it were to occur again.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to do anything that smacks of suppression of thinking or thought,” Zeitler said. “Because it’s a public meeting, I feel like anyone should be able to come, and if they have a complaint, they should be able to voice it, but they should have a time limit, they should be controllable if they’re out of control and we certainly cannot just allow any wildness.”
Payroll Protection Plan
The board approved King to sign paperwork for the Payroll Protection Plan loan from the bank.
“It covers our payroll because we’re not getting any contributions with being closed so much,” King said. “It’s the same as it would be for a business.”
This allows the Pember to pay its employees without making cuts and layoffs, King said.
As of press time, the library is open by appointment only, Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Wednesday (Feb.17) was crazy,” Librarian Ardyce Bressett said. “Our numbers are down this month but I think we can bring that up.”
Bressett also said during the meeting that the children’s room is now open to the public, one family at a time.
King said she can understand how many people may feel uncomfortable going to a library during COVID-19. She described herself as a “browser,” not someone who would ideally receive her books via curbside pickup.
“For me to go into a library under the conditions we’re in, I would hate it.”
The back-and-forth status between fully open and curbside pickup can be checked by contacting the Library at 518-642-2525, or finding updates on the Pember’s Facebook page and website, https://thepember.org/
Memorial wind chimes
Donations and wind chimes have been given in remembrance of the mother of King, Colleen Hooper, who recently passed away.
King said the chimes are going in the children’s room up high “so they catch a breeze and they can’t be touched.”
On one side, the chimes say, “listen to the wind and know I am near,” while the other side says, “to remember Colleen Hooper, 1938-2020, richer than I you can never be I had a mother who read to me (Strickland Gillian).
The chimes were donated by Adam and Marianne Schrom of Ballston Lake.
Maple sugaring project
King informed the board she is seeking storybooks on sugaring to be able to read to children, COVID-19 restrictions permitting.
“I’m not sure that can happen, and that is not going to happen at the library,” King said.
King aims to compile information based on the scientific part of sugaring, as well as fiction and non-fiction books on sugaring.
She then plans to distribute those materials in a packet to sugar houses in the surrounding area.