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 February 17, 2024

Entire Newfane Public Library staff and more than half of its board of trustees resign without explanation

Questions abound after the entire staff of the Newfane Public Library resigned, followed by four of its seven board of trustee members, the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal reported. The reason for the abrupt departures from this Newfane, New York, institution remains a mystery.

A letter to the news outlet from Kelly Artieri, the board's president, did not reveal much except to say that move was made to allow the "library to heal." Artieri was one of the four members who resigned but would not disclose the names of the others.

"(On Thursday), three members of the Board of Trustees for the Newfane Public Library and myself tendered our resignations. We did this action in the hopes of allowing the library to heal," Artieri wrote in her statement.

"Trust has been lost on all sides, and without trust, there is no path forward for the library to succeed," she added. The following day, Artieri assured reporters that while she "cannot and will not" disclose anything else, she assured the public there is "nothing nefarious going on in Newfane."

More Questions Than Answers

The ordeal began last week following a meeting of the library's board. It's unknown what transpired except that afterward, all four library staff members abruptly resigned.

Amy Wilt, the library manager, would not comment on the situation at the time except to say that one of the employees cited "health reasons" when resigning. She declined to comment further on any other reason given, however.

This week, nearly half of the board walked away again without providing comments or reasons to the public. On the library's Facebook page, there is no clue that anything is amiss, except that a Facebook post from Feb. 14 limited who could comment on the generic graphic.

The only hint about any sort of trouble comes from an earlier Lockport Union-Sun & Journal report made after the staff quit. Artieri said that the all-volunteer board followed policies "mandated by New York State Department of Education law" and that sometimes "the decisions that are made may not be popular, but are necessary."

The Library's Future

The public library remains open at this time despite the lack of staff and board members. However, Artieri explained that the library would close for "several weeks" starting at the end of the month for repairs and asbestos removal that had already been scheduled.

She said the asbestos "has not been disturbed, so it is not a health risk at this time but needs to be removed just the same," Artieri said. The board, or what's left of it, will now be tasked with replacing staff, including the library director.

The exiting director was employed part-time with hybrid arrangement allowing both remote and in-person work. The position is now full-time and on-site due to the "limitations" of remote work.

"It has been a great opportunity and experience, but our current director and the board have discussed and agreed that with the limitations of the remote hybrid nature, we really needed a full-time local director," Altieri noted. She's urging residents to "be patient" through the repairs, staffing, and board issues.

This small-town oddity is as intriguing as it is mysterious. The conflicts that erupt on the local level can be more contentious as people have more at stake in their own communities, and perhaps this was a factor in whatever caused this deep rift.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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