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Captiva Memorial Library loses head librarian position

By Staff | May 17, 2017

During the Captiva Community Panel’s monthly meeting which was held on May 9, Lisa Riordan, president of the Captiva Advisory Board announced that Susan Totter, head librarian of the Captiva Memorial Library resigned May 6, leaving them with a vacant position.

Totter replaced Ann Bradley last April after Bradley retired. As of right now, the county doesn’t plan on replacing Totter’s position anytime soon. Instead, the library has hired a replacement that will run both Captiva’s library and Lakes Regional Library. The replacement will be at the Captiva Memorial Library only three days a week.

“We heard about it by way of Susan’s resignation letter to us, we did not get any notification from the county,” Riordan said. “There’s no commitment that they’re going to stay three days a week. (The county) is going to see how it works.”

Riordan said that she and Michele Cunningham, the board’s liaison to the county library system for the last 12 years, met up with Pam Keyes the acting director for Lee County’s Library System to voice their concerns over not having a full-time replacement for Totter.

“What we explained to them is we want our advocate – a librarian is an advocate for the community, an advocate for the library when budget time comes, when programs come and we told her that we would not feel comfortable with not having a full-time person here. She explained to us that she wanted Captiva to be trailblazers and that this is the first library that they plan to cut staff on,” Riordan said.

When Riordan asked if it was due to budget reasons or low circulation numbers, Keyes responded and said that it was just a plan.

Keyes, who was present at the meeting said that it is very typical in Lee County that when a director leaves a closer look is taken at the library and its program.

Keyes said that efficiency and level of services are two aspects that are taken into consideration.

“Right now, We are going through that process, it’s been very interesting because the balance for us is trying to understand the personality of the branch as well as the efficiency of the system. I think that this is going to be an ongoing process for us,” Keyes said.

Keyes said during the meeting that the head librarian staff position can be done with two people who are not full-time.

Ann Brady, director of the Rauschenberg Residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation who was in attendance disagrees with Keyes’ stance on not having someone at the library full-time.

“The programs that happened when Ann (Bradley) was here were very comprehensive, very substantial. I think rather than looking at what has happened over the past year, or maybe what even happened when Ann was here, we should think “What could happen if there was someone here full-time?” or at least someone who is committed – maybe only on property three or four days a week but committed, a full-time person who could do the kind of programming that this community needs and desires,” Brady said.

Brady firmly believes the only way that will happen is if there is someone working at the library full-time.

“We’re not going to have that vibrancy if there’s not someone committed to that,” Brady said.

Riordan said that Ann Bradley, Captiva Memorial Library’s former head librarian will replace Cunningham, who will be retiring soon, as their liaison to the county. The next liaison meeting will be in October.

The Captiva Community Panel plans to write a letter to Lee County in support of hiring a full-time head librarian.