KALISPELL, MONT. — Kalispell's ImagineIF Library Board of Trustees voted Thursday on a new library director. In a 3-2 vote, the library board decided to appoint Ashley Cummins.
The decision to hire Cummins as the new director will result in a loss of certification from the Montana Library Association, because she doesn't have a master's degree in library science.
With the loss of state certification, the library will also forfeit over $30,000 in state funding.
"They're not setting her up for success; they're not setting our library up for success, and they're not setting our community up for success," said Laurel Ekren, a patron of the library.
"The board is looking for someone to further their agenda. They are not interested in what the majority of Flathead County residents are saying to them, they've shown that time and time again," said Ekren.
Out of 82 libraries in the state of Montana, Kalispell's is just one of four libraries that won't be certified by the state.
"As far as the need for the degree, it’s a measure of someone’s knowledge and interest in providing library services," said senior librarian Sean Anderson. "This isn’t intended to be facetious, but we expect the health dept. director to deeply understand public health, an accountant to deeply understand accounting – so we should expect a library director to deeply know libraries."
According to a state librarian, the master's in library science brings perspectives on legal rights of citizens the ethical questions that come with providing open access to information and other kinds of service that come from having professional education and opportunities to interact with other professionals of the same caliber.
Currently no plans have been proposed to the board on how the loss of funds will be made up, according to Anderson.
The new director’s start date is set for March 7.