The D.C. Public Library Board of Trustees is among the more opaque of the city’s many nontransparent entities. The board convenes in private before its monthly public meetings, so its decision-making process is largely hidden from view.
Certainly things weren’t fully explained at the board’s Aug. 9 meeting, when board president John W. Hill blandly made a controversial announcement: The president of the Federation of Friends of the D.C. Library, an umbrella organization for the groups of volunteers and donors who support neighborhood libraries, would no longer have a seat at the table with the board.
The change, Hill noted cryptically, was made after a study of “best practices” at other library systems.
Even though the Federation of Friends’ position on the board was a nonvoting one, some members of the group were angered. Federation President Richard Huffine called the move “blatantly illegal” and “against their by-laws.” Two days later, Hill said the board would reconsider the action.
At the Jan. 17 trustees meeting, it did. Hill introduced a motion to restore the federation’s nonvoting seat by recommending that “we as a board state our intentions to work very closely with the Friends on matters that come before the board.” The brief discussion that followed was without substance, and the motion passed on a unanimous voice vote.
There’s still no word on what constitutes “best practices.” But whatever they are, apparently they’ve changed.