Secretary of State Jason Kander appears to be uninterested in meeting with representatives of Missouri library officials to discuss personnel cuts at the state library, maintaining that he’s only doing his job and the benefits of the process will become apparent.
Protests of the staff cuts from the Missouri Library Association have drawn support from the American Library Association. ALA President Maureen Sullivan likens Kander’s plans to cut staff to funnel more resources to local libraries to a school district buying more buses while laying off drivers. Both she at the head of the Missouri Library Association, Carol Smith of Warrensburg, want Kander to meet with representatives of local libraries
But Kander says his staff reached the decisions to take these steps by studying what other states do with their libraries and finding Missouri was spending too much on staff and not enough on programs. He does not seem interested in meeting with representatives of local libraries. “There’s a mission in place for the library and it was created with input from folks like the MLA [and] librarians from all over the state. This reorganization is not a change of the mission. If anything it is us embracing the mission that has been outlined by stakeholders like the MLA…and trying to meet that mission in the most efficient and possible way,” he says.
Kander says the first phase of his plan has been to locate inefficiencies in the way the State Library is operated under that mission. He says his office is working on how to best use the savings resulting from the dismissals of ten people–and leaving three other slots unfilled. Kander says the announced the dismissals now, three months before the end of the fiscal year, gives the employees three months to find other jobs, even elsewhere within the Secretary of State’s office as other staff at the library or in other department in his office leave.