116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
By Gage Miskimen, The Gazette
VINTON — The Vinton Public Library, which has been closed this week after losing its interim director — and, before that, two directors in two years — will reopen for limited hours beginning Monday.
The two directors left for other jobs amid city resident complaints about the library’s display of LGBTQ books and books about Democratic President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The library will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Board members and the library’s one part-time employee will take shifts to check out books and provide access to the library’s computers, copier and fax machines.
Library Board President Jimmy Kelly said before former interim Director Colton Neely’s departure last week, the board trained on checking books in and out, opening and closing the building and other tasks.
“We also got clearance from the city administrator as volunteers so we are covered under the city’s liability insurance, so we’re now considered to be employees basically,” Kelly said.
The nine-member board met Wednesday to draft a plan.
One service that won’t be available at this time is the interlibrary loan program.
“We don’t have training on that system, but we have someone locally who was previously a director somewhere else that has offered to help train some of us,” Kelly said. “That’s a service that people might expect that we aren’t sure we are able to provide.”
The board has committed to working shifts through the end of this month. Kelly said the goal is to hire a new director by that time. Applications for the position closed last Friday.
“We’re looking to move forward with three candidates and do interviews over this next two-week period and make a decision by the end of the month,” Kelly said. “I was nervous with as much exposure our challenges have gotten — would there be people that saw here as a place to want to work — but getting candidates makes me feel really good.”
Kelly said he also feels positive about the library’s future after Wednesday’s meeting.
“I came into that meeting being unsure how we would figure out these important aspects, and I walked away from the meeting thinking, ‘OK, yes,’” he said.
“Hearing everyone step up on the board was really great and encouraging,” he added. “The tone and energy of the people to work toward solutions was at a high level. … We know things are unresolved, but we have to keep moving forward because this library is essential to this community.”
Vinton, a town of about 5,000 and the county seat of Benton County, lost Directors Renee Greenlee and Janette McMahon due to complaints about the display of books. Some residents, instead of filing a formal complaint to trigger a reconsideration process, checked books out and didn’t return them.
Both former directors have taken jobs at other Iowa libraries. The former interim director now is employed at a historical society.
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