Longtime Claremont Librarian Won’t Keep Job

  • Claremont City Librarian Mike Grace, left, talks with librarian Marta Smith, 62, at the Fiske Free Library in Claremont, N.H., Tuesday, June 20, 2017. Smith has worked at the library for 29 years and was expected to replace the children's librarian who retired in teh spring, but that job has now been posted for applications. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 6/27/2017 12:00:19 AM
Modified: 6/27/2017 8:49:08 AM

Claremont — Longtime Fiske Free Library employee Marta Smith will be out of a job at week’s end.

Smith said on Monday she received a letter late last week from City Manager Ryan McNutt informing her that her position as assistant library director/adult services librarian was being eliminated due to “budget constraints.”

Smith, who has worked at the library for 29 years, thought her job was safe after the City Council approved a nearly $16.4 million budget on June 14 that included $80,000 to restore a full-time position at the library that McNutt’s proposed budget had eliminated.

Two days after the vote, the city posted a job listing for a children’s librarian, including education credentials, specifically a master’s degree, which Smith does not have. Smith said on Monday she was invited to apply for the position in her termination letter.

“I will apply, but I doubt I will get it,” Smith said. “To me, he couldn’t hire someone else if he is laying off people because of budget constraints.”

The former children’s librarian retired this spring.

McNutt said last week he could not publicly discuss personnel matters but did say it was clear to him during the budget discussions the city would maintain a full-time children’s librarian for the new fiscal year, which begins on Saturday.

“It should not come as a surprise,” he said last week about the job posting on the city’s website.

Smith said a number of library patrons stopped by to offer their support as word spread that she was losing her job.

“They don’t like it,” Smith said. “They think it was a rotten thing to do.”

At least two city councilors, John Simonds and Nick Koloski, said it was their understanding that by putting the funding back in the budget, the council would be retaining the current staff at the library.

Simonds voted for the budget; Koloski voted against it.

Library Board of Trustee President George Caccavaro said on Monday he was disappointed in the city manager’s actions regarding Smith and said a scheduled meeting today between the trustees and McNutt was called off.

The trustees, who argued strongly during the budget review for keeping three full-time librarians, were hoping to persuade McNutt to keep Smith.

“The board is not interested at this point,” Caccavaro said.

Caccavaro said the trustees believed the council’s decision to add the full-time position meant Smith would not be laid off.

“None of us thought this was how it would happen,” Caccavaro said. “We believed we would keep the current staff as it is. Sixty-eight percent of the business (in the library) is for adults. That is where you should put the money.”

The children’s librarian position has been covered by Smith and two part-time employees, Caccavaro said, and he expected that to continue.

McNutt said the job requirements for the children’s librarian position were written by the city’s human resources director Bette Shattuck with his consultation.

Smith has had experience in the children’s area, ordering books and conducting some classes, he said.

Library Director Mike Grace said Smith’s absence would surely be felt.

“We are going to miss her and her contributions to the library and the city,” Grace said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

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