Dozens of opponents to a re-structuring plan recently announced by the Trustees of the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum formed a circle around the historic library and museum on Saturday, and pledged to fight against proposed staff cuts.
According to Board Chair Bill Marshall, eight staffers have been laid off and three other positions have been eliminated. The eight employees have been told they may re-apply for four new positions. A part-time development director will be made full-time and a new collections curator will be hired.
But supporters of the librarians, including former Vermont poet laureate Galway Kinnell, said at Saturday’s demonstration that they should not bear the brunt of the Athenaeum’s fiscal woes. "People Make the Library," a banner proclaimed. Several speakers said that librarians helped patrons find more reliable information and resources than they could find without help on the internet.
Board Chair Marshall did not attend the event, but did email a written statement that reads in part, "At the Athenaeum, reductions in staff are especially difficult and we are saddened that this has happened. The Board of Trustees remain grateful to our staff, patrons, friends, trustees, business partners, donors and sponsors who continue their support during this transition."