Saturday, March 14, 2009

EDITORIAL: TheTruth Is Out!

"We were hoping to get more funding than we did in 2008," Rosser-Hogben said. "And with the economy doing a downturn, the board felt — and I fully supported — that it just wasn't the time to continue on with it."

Those are the startling words of retiring Director of the Lancaster Public Library (Duke Street) as published in the March 13 Intelligencer Journal.

Rosser-Hogben acknowledges she helped bring about the last minute switch of board members from unanimous support for remodeling and expanding the library to the last minute aborting the project despite financial arrangement with the State and encouragement and assistance from the mayor and other governmental officials.

The money for the renovation was almost certainly available. The expectation of later funding for the 18,000 square foot expansion was excellent because a federal recovery bill with funds for "shovel ready" public projects was on the horizon.

But remodeling a library while it remains in operation is a huge undertaking for a director, requiring tremendous effort, leadership and long hours. Rosser-Hogben could have stepped aside and made way for someone eager and perhaps experienced to do the job. There was ample time to find a qualified successor.

Rosser-Hogben was unsuccessful in generating a successful fund raising program, a task foreign to her experience and skills. Nor was she receptive to advice from pros. Most of the major non-governmental funds received in recent years have been from the book sales, ably led by former library president Pat Ditzler, a source on the board, and bequests from parties virtually unknown and unsolicited.

Perhaps her failures in that area brought about an irrational sense of panic. But leading members of the Lancaster community and a a professional fund raiser to be engaged for the campaign would have been heading up the effort.

Rosser-Hogben's last minute influence over inexperienced board members not only led to a rejection of a million dollars (plus another $500,000 if needed) of funding for the project and over four hundred thousands spent on plans, but brought a halt to over a hundred thousand dollars a year of contribution from a board source that, among other things, had funded essential repairs and the expansion of the public computers by 50%.

Furthermore, the library's feasibility study (another $30,000) indicated twice the financial support from the community that was required to close the gap ($1,300,000 at the most and only $800,00 if need be) for renovating and remodeling, and this was before asking the County Commissioners for a cent!

It was understandable that Rosser-Hogben would not care to take on the burden of managing the library through a period of major renovation during operations. She had indicated in the past a desire to resign. She had an entire year to help make the transition to a director perhaps experienced in renovations and fund raising.

Is our publisher bitter that Rosser-Hogben withdrew her support of the project at the last minute? Absolutely. Thirteen hundred people a day are deprived of a remodeled central library and the expansion which the community so needs.

NewsLanc wishes Rosser-Hogben well in her future career and thanks her for accomplishments in some areas, and her knowledgeable assistance in planning for the renovated and expanded facilities.

But we are glad to see her move on.