ACADEMY – The Cabanne branch of the St. Louis Public Library is closed.
That’s something that can be agreed upon. There’s fencing around it, with a banner reading: “Services at our Cabanne location are temporarily suspended. Visit Schlafly Library or any SLPL for service.”
What hasn’t been agreed is, why?
Nearby residents say the word on the street is that the branch, at 1106 Union Blvd., is closed for renovation.
“Something in the front is cracking and needs to be fixed and they don’t want anybody to get hurt. That’s what I been hearing,” said Jeremy Johnson, who was walking Monday near the library.
At least two other nearby residents also cited renovation. So did Jen Hatton, manager of public relations and digital marketing for SLPL.
“It’s being renovated,” she quickly answered.
After a heads-up that additional questions had been emailed to her based on other potential reasons expressed in an email that The NorthSider received, she said she would view them and respond.
In the meantime, The NorthSider reached out to an SLPL branch employee. When asked why the Cabanne branch had suspended services, the employee, who requested anonymity, said it was closed for “various reasons.”
After a return email from Hatton with answers to the questions, some of what the emailer had stated turned out to be true.
However, the emailer’s concern that the branch will never reopen is a non-issue, according to Hatton, who said that although she didn’t know the exact date, the library would open.
The emailer said that a bad incident had happened at the library, that some employees were no longer working there and that jobs vacancies hadn’t been posted.
Hatton confirmed some it:
“An incident occurred on Oct. 4th, which ended with police involvement and some staff members feeling unsafe. The Library is addressing this and working to add additional security procedures.”
As for the staffing and restaffing, Hatton said current staff had been temporarily reassigned to other locations until the building could be reopened.
“We have two vacancies and are working to fill them now,” she said.
The emailer also said that the Cabanne branch was one of two in the city library’s system that had not undergone renovations and that Cabanne was not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.
Hatton confirmed those assertions to be true. She named the second branch that has not been renovated: the Machacek branch, at 6424 Scanlan Ave. in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood. She also confirmed that the Cabanne branch was not ADA-compliant.
Regarding a recently canceled board meeting, the emailer suggested that the suspension of services was serious enough to ensure convening.
However, Hatton said that there had not been a quorum, so the meeting could not be held.
Some members of the board are serving on expired terms, including one since the 1980s, which Hatton confirmed She noted that, by law, the members are able to serve until there is a reappointment.
The suspension of service was discussed and announced at the October board meeting, Hatton said. Also, patrons were notified by mail, email, signs posted at the location and a banner message on the website. Additionally, Hatton said, SLPL provided Cabanne customers with information on bus routes to the next nearest library locations.
The emailer ended by saying: “This is a tax-funded organization that gets very little public scrutiny, and it would be nice for someone representing the public interest to be present at the next board meeting when this is presumably discussed. My hope is that the library can continue to support the needs and interests of the community.”