The Floyd-Montgomery Regional Library faced a “come to Jesus” meeting with County Supervisors Tuesday when the chairman of the library’s board had to apologize for a false rumor campaign that claimed the county government wanted to close the library down to save money.
The scare campaign left the library with much-deserved egg on its face and proved the power of the Internet and email in spreading false information.
As far as I can determine, the screw up started with a Facebook posting that claimed Courthouse Supervisor Casey Clinger proposed shutting down the library to help save money for the county’s cash-strapped budget. Library board chairman Michael Hemphill admitted to supervisors Tuesday that his board has “been told” that closing down the library was discussed as an option by supervisors.
But that option was not, in fact, ever proposed or considered. Little River Supervisor Virgel Allen did ask library director Paula Alston if the library has considered closing one day a week to save money and Alston responded that she would fight that suggestion “to the very end.” But another library staffer told me that they were told Clinger wanted to close down the library.
“That’s ridiculous,” Clinger told me. “I never suggested such a thing. It’s simply not true.”
Clinger, who donated $1,000 to the library last year, says he has long supported the operation. When Clinger told library officials he did not make such a suggestion, another Facebook posting appeared claiming the supervisor “changed his story.”
Another posting claimed The Floyd Press was “covering up” the board of supervisor’s plans to close the library.
That came as a surprise to The Floyd Press reporter who covers the supervisors — me.
I’ve been accused of a lot of things in my life, but this the first time anyone has suggested that I suppress news.
I cover all meetings of the supervisors. If Clinger, or any other board member, had proposed shutting down the library it would have been the Page One story in that week’s paper.
The library’s budget will be cut, both by Floyd and Montgomery County supervisors. Local governments budgets are stressed to the limit in these hard economic times and just about everyone will have to make do with less money.
But closing down the library? Wasn’t suggested and isn’t going to happen.
Those who started and spread the rumors damaged the reputation of the Floyd-Montgomery Regional Library.