Stoking Fear - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1823410

Stoking Fear

What’s going on at the John Jermain Memorial Library?

We continue to have a Neanderthal stance requiring a mask, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the rest of the public community of Sag Harbor have adapted a more reasonable response. Its own website states that we need to protect those who can’t get vaccinated — so very virtuous but also so untrue.

Our public library has basically denied us the right to make intelligent decisions on our own so that they can pretend to keep us all safe from COVID because they know better. But, at the same time, ask for an almost 3 percent budget increase.

A quick preview of their recent budget analysis exposes a startling fact: that half of the library’s budget is salary and employee benefits. In fact, only 6 percent of their budget goes for “library materials and programs” — you know, the stuff that people who visit a library actually need. In fact, of the six disbursements listed, it’s the lowest expense by far.

How can that be? Something is seriously broken and it needs fixing. COVID has exposed how little the library serves the public, yet clearly it serves those who serve the library. Who holds them accountable? Where does this end?

If this was a business, it clearly would be shuttered, but instead it continues to bleed the public it pretends to serve but denies the very access to the library because they are protecting us from ourselves from COVID, and yet at the same time limiting the very things a community needs to 6 percent of its total budget.

The library should be a beacon of strength and community commitment. Instead, it now stands for COVID fear, has shuttered its doors by limiting access, and taken seats away along with restricted access that makes it feel more like a prison then a library. Yet our surrounding community libraries have been open longer and have a balanced approach throughout this pandemic and have acted more in a normal fashion, while our library has stoked fear and skepticism.

Hopefully, our new director will right this ship and sail a course of openness and conservative fiscal responsibility.

Thomas M. Jones

Sag Harbor

The CDC guidance is that fully vaccinated people, “to maximize protection from the delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others,” should wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. Suffolk County is an area with high transmission, according to the CDC — Ed.