Epic fail: Library officials disregard stated mission

By Mike Anthony

We believe St. Louis County Library officials are failing miserably at their stated mission “to provide the resources and services to enrich individual minds, enhance lives and expand perspectives.”

That’s our conclusion after dealing with library officials the past few months with regard to their plans to move the Tesson Ferry Branch from Lin Ferry Drive to Gravois and Musick, where a new building will be constructed. For people who are in the information business, library officials appear reluctant, if not downright unwilling, to respond to questions.

Concord resident Ed Ryan has made at least four requests for the same information to the library district under the provisions of the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Act, also called the Sunshine Law. Ryan was among local elected officials who spoke at a March 7 meeting opposing the move of the Tesson Ferry Library.

At the meeting, which drew more than 100 people, Ryan noted the difficulty he’s encountered obtaining information from library officials.

“Getting this information was like pulling teeth …,” he said.

Ryan knows how good government operates, as he serves on the Board of Directors of the Mehlville Fire Protection District, an entity that is the model of transparency.

And it gets even better. The day before the meeting, Ryan stood outside the library and passed out fliers advertising the event — when a library official called the police on Ryan in an effort to have him removed from the premises.

When the Call’s Gloria Lloyd attempted to obtain a comment from library officials, Tesson Ferry Branch Manager Anne Arthur deferred all questions about the incident to library Communications Manager Jennifer McBride, who declined to comment.

Ryan and other elected officials, including Green Park Mayor Bob Reinagel, have raised many questions about the state of the existing Tesson Ferry Library and the reasons why library officials want to move the branch to Gravois and Musick.

Library Executive Director Kristen Sorth did not respond to Lloyd’s requests for comment. McBride declined to answer direct questions from the Call, but instead issued a statement ducking the questions, noting that she would have no further comment.

The public and press have many questions about the planned move of the Tesson Ferry Library. It’s too bad that Sorth and McBride are unwilling to answer them.