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Library staff walk off the job at Cedar County Stockton branch, as district director resigns

Abhi Sharma
A generic image used for illustrative purposes shows books and shelves.

The Cedar County Library branch in Stockton appeared to be closed on Wednesday after staff walked off the job. Meanwhile, the countywide library director said she resigned her position on Tuesday.

Former Cedar County Library Director Tiffany Scrogham says the issues currently facing the Cedar County Library District aren’t related to recent public library controversy at the state level.

In March, Missouri House lawmakers approved a budget that would cut $4.5 million dollars in state aid to public libraries, which tend to get most of their funding on the local level from taxpayers and private donors.

The House bill was widely seen as retaliation for a lawsuit over book bans in schools that was filed by the ALCU on behalf of the Missouri Association of School Librarians and the Missouri Library Association. On Tuesday, Missouri Senator Lincoln Hough, a Springfield Republican, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Senate would likely vote to restore that money.

But state funding isn’t why the staff of the Stockton branch library walked off the job this week, Scrogham says.

She says recently, she put in one month’s notice that she was quitting her job as director of the Cedar County Library system. But this week, she and the library’s board of directors agreed she would leave on Tuesday.

Scrogham declined to get too specific on controversy wracking the rural library branches in Stockton and El Dorado, which serve Cedar County’s 15,000 residents.

KSMU asked Scrogham, “With the branch being closed, and it sounds that it’s correct that the staff of that branch walked off the job and you exited yesterday, it sounds like there’s a lot going on with the Cedar County Library right now. Can you comment just as a summary of what’s going on?”

After a long pause and a sigh, Scrogham answered, “All I can say is that it would really help if patrons and concerned citizens came to the board meetings, and brought their concerns to the board.”

Ozarks Public Radio reached library board chair Kay Forest, who said she wouldn’t comment on personnel matters.

Separately, a Stockton library worker told KSMU they weren’t comfortable going on air but confirmed that staffers of the town branch library left their jobs Tuesday due to ongoing tension between library workers and the board of directors.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.