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Thursday, March 8, 2007

Hot Memo: A hall pass for the Tobin Endowment. The Library Formerly Known as Oakwell shakes its fist

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Mashup fulminated this week about the Library Board's decision to rename the Library Formerly Known as Oakwell - henceforth known as the Tobin Library at Oakwell - in the wake of a $100,000 gift to the Public Library Foundation from the Tobin Endowment, which requested the re-baptism (no strings attached, of course). (Why, you might be wondering, can't you shake that mental image of a snake swallowing its own tail?) You can read our coverage of the issue - which prompted a board member to resign and the Foundation to withdraw an even larger grant request from the Endowment - here, here, and here.

Today, a reader pointed out that MashUp neglected to emphasize the even-more-damning circumstances: the Library Board recently accepted a committee proposal to reject renaming requests, but grandfathered in the Tobin Endowment's request to rename Oakwell. Here is the text of a memo to the Library Board from an Oakwell board member that succinctly sums up the b.s. I guess we'll have to rescind that "Citizens' Board of the Year" award.


To: San Antonio Public Library Board of Trustees

From: Aaron Konstam, Member of the Board

Oakwell Public Library

Date: March 6, 2007

Subject: Name change of Oakwell Library

At first when I heard about the vote to change the name of Oakwell Library I decided to place this event in the "you win a few and lose a few" category of events. But I feel it is necessary to demand a level of fairness from those in Public Service and this decision did not measure up to my standards of fairness.

At your November meeting the Board decided not to make a decision on this name change until they could decide on a set of Naming Guidelines that would cover the renaming of Library facilities. After several months of deliberation a committee tasked with crafting such guidelines came up with a document that made it clear that renaming of Library facilities would not be considered by the Library Board.

That seemed clear enough so it was with some astonishment that I found out that the Library Board voted to change the name of Oakwell Library. Correct me if I am wrong but as I understand it this obvious contradiction of action with the policy accepted was rationalized by saying the the matter of Oakwell's name change had been suggested before the new naming guidelines has been agreed to. If this is true than this argument is characterized by inconsistency and a violation of the stated decision at the November meeting.

Now the Board has recently appealed for help from library patrons (including those from Oakwell) to support your interests in inserting funds for the Library in the Bond issue. Oakwell patrons came out to support you in this effort. They have a right to ask of you to be more fair in dealing with their stated wishes in the renaming question for their Library. In my opinion we did not receive that fairness from you.

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