To the Editor,
I am a resident of Lower Saucon Township. I was appointed to the Hellertown Area Library board in January 2017. I joined the board because I grew up in libraries. My mother was a librarian for 40 years. As a mother of four children and as a professor of many years, I have always held a strong belief in the role of the library as a center of community interaction and learning. Upon joining the board, I was not surprised to hear that the Hellertown Area Library struggled to find funding. Again, my mother was a librarian for 40 years, so I was already aware that most people love having a library, but few want to pay for it. What did surprise me was the unusual dedication and passion of my fellow board members and library staff. We worked hard to keep our little library running on its shoestring budget. We pestered local businesses for donations, organized fundraising events and constantly fretted over the best way to stretch our tiny endowment. Many board members, including myself, donated our own funds or tapped personal connections to benefit the library.
Until last year, the library’s relationship with Hellertown Borough and Lower Saucon Township was good. The library board requested more money annually from these municipalities because books and services, like everything else, cost more every year. Sometimes we got all the money we requested, sometimes we did not, but I felt as though all three of our organizations were working towards the same goal: delivering high quality library services to the members of our community. Our relationship with Lower Saucon Township Council took a turn for the worse last year. As a board, we spent much of the past year trying to navigate an unnecessarily combative relationship with the Lower Saucon Township Council. Our board meetings, once filled with productive conversations about the best way to run the library, became consumed with anxious discussions to determine if we could keep the library, a pillar of the community for over 30 years, open for business.
As a resident of Lower Saucon Township, I have been deeply disappointed in my local government. I fully support the actions of the Hellertown Area Library Board in removing Lower Saucon Township residents, myself included, from the board. Indeed, I helped author the amended bylaws that ended my term. If my own municipality cannot support, and actively works against, the library, then we should not be permitted to sit on the board.
I hope the Lower Saucon Township Council reconsiders its prior position and realizes the importance of the Hellertown Area Library to the community.
Yours very truly,
Lara K. Goudsouzian, Ph.D.
Lower Saucon Township Resident
HAL Board Member, 2017-2022
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Further Reading about the Hellertown Area Library-Lower Saucon Township Dispute:
- Hellertown Library Will Continue to Serve LST Residents: Letter to the Editor – Ken Solt, Feb. 18, 2022
- Hellertown Library Board Right to Remove LST Members: Letter to the Editor – Victoria Opthof-Cordaro, Feb. 14, 2022
- Council Meeting Agenda Without Library Update Hurs Community: Letter to the Editor – Priscilla deLeon, Feb. 13, 2022
- Hellertown Temporarily Cuts Ties With Lower Saucon – Josh Popichak, Feb. 8, 2022
- Lower Saucon Council Should Restore Full Funding to HAL: Letter to the Editor – Laura Ray, Feb. 6, 2022