An anonymous complaint was lodged with a state agency about the Atlantic Public Library, which, in-turn, said the concern is a misunderstanding. According to the Daily NonPareil, the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) received a complaint about the Atlantic library’s board of trustees, declaring that its discussions should be considered confidential, an allegation based on its meeting minutes.
In the minutes of the board’s June 8th meeting, Atlantic Library Board President Linn Headlee reportedly told her board “that discussions held in the board are confidential and should be treated with discretion.” The complaint with the IPIB alleges that constitutes a violation of state open meetings law. It also raises questions of whether meeting minutes might not accurately reflect discussions.
The complaint, lodged June 28th, was filed by someone identifying themselves as “A Concerned Atlantic Library Patron” who refused to give a name or contact information because they feared “reprisal from any Library Board member or any City representative appointed to the Library Board.” The complainant says “Public libraries, like other tax-supported agencies, must operate in the best interest of the public. Additionally, there may not be a way of knowing if Minutes from any previous board meetings have been censored at the President’s request.”
At its regular meeting Monday, the library board reviewed the open meeting law as well as the IPIB’s training materials. Library Director Natalie Struecker said she communicated that discussion with the state board’s representative as well. Struecker wasn’t at the June 8th meeting, because she was newly hired and wasn’t on the job until shortly after that meeting. She told the paper she believes the matter was a misunderstanding, and that the Library Board is aware nothing at the meeting is confidential.
The complaint will be included in today’s (Thursday’s) IPIB agenda as a new case. The agency’s Deputy Director, Margaret Johnson, said no action is planned on the case. In a separate matter, Johnson said the IPIB does not plan any new action regarding a complaint by Margaret Stoldorf against the Red Oak Community School District. That case remains under investigation, according to the agenda. The complaint challenges meetings in January following a protracted set of complaints against the school district addressed by the state agency last year.