The news that Director Kitty Little was leaving the Rye Free Reading Room, after barely two years in the position, caused a wave of concern and questions around town.
By Robin Jovanovich
The news that Director Kitty Little was leaving the Rye Free Reading Room, after barely two years in the position, caused a wave of concern and questions around town. Residents are still talking about how wonderful it was that Little and staff had kept the library open late after the hurricane, so that people had somewhere to go, commiserate, do work, and stay in contact with family members living elsewhere. Many described it as an “all-important connection” during the days the community was without power.
In an interview with the paper this week, Little explained that she was leaving “because the library is underfunded by the City. The reality is we’re just scraping by.” She continued, “As a professional manager, my frustration with the City’s funding began soon after I came here. The library is a core community service and we’re asked to compete for funds. The City uses our level of community support as an excuse not to give us appropriate funding. The library received no increase from the City in 2010-2011; we funded it ourselves in 2012. The City staff initially proposed a flat budget for the library next year. In the end, we’re getting a $30,000 increase in 2013. That’s not enough to keep the doors open the hours we are currently open.”
Little said she didn’t want the community to worry about the library’s future, that the board has a new interim plan. “Patrons will see little difference. The library has a strong foundation and will be there for them.” She praised the dedicated staff, the engaged board, and the supportive volunteers.
During Little’s tenure, a number of things have been accomplished: a new financial management system, a user- friendly website (which she said was mostly the work of her predecessor), a totally reorganized and modernized second floor, including the Teen Center, and improved community relations and public service. Before she leaves in February, the strategic plan, “reflective of the community,” will be in place. “The library has been thinking in a forward way,” said Little.
When asked if she was taking a similar position elsewhere, Little would only say, “I came here thinking this was going to be the place where I finished my professional career. The City funding issue was more of an issue than I thought.”