RUMFORD — Tamara Butler, director of the Rumford Public Library, has resigned to take a position with a publishing company in Waterville.

“If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said I’m not leaving, but I received a really good offer,” said Butler, whose final day is July 31.

From left are Thomas Currivan, Rumford Public Library technology coordinator; Sue Marshall, children’s librarian; library Director Tamara Butler; and Mary Ann Fournier, adult services librarian. Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin

Butler didn’t elaborate on her reasons for leaving the library, but she had positive things to say about her four years in Rumford and her co-workers.

“I really don’t want to say anything negative. I loved being here,” she said. “It’s the best board of trustees I’ve ever worked with. The staff is great. The people — I love the work.”

Despite being at the center of a recent controversy over the library’s banned books display, Butler said the situation gave her a positive view of her position as director.

“From some of the controversy that we’ve gone through, it’s really helped me to get a clearer vision of what a librarian needs to be to a community,” Butler said. “I’m proud that I stood up for diversity and for making sure that all views were represented in the library.”

Last September, the library’s board of trustees decided not to remove the display of banned books following a letter to trustees from three members of the local clergy complaining that the display was not appropriate for a public library serving the families and people of the River Valley.

She said the meeting last fall was a success in that, “not only did we stand up for diversity, but we actually made relationships with some of the pastors involved. Justin Thacker is a regular here now.”

In June, trustees defended their selection of books for monthly displays, telling Interim Town Manager Scott Cole they don’t have a political agenda and they are following library policy.

“I am proud how we handled that and I hope that we continue to be the voice for the under represented groups in our community” Butler said. “I do feel more willing to speak up, because I felt like I was put in a position where I had to.”

When she arrived here from New York, one of her goals was for the library to have more offerings.

“I feel I’ve made a difference,” she said. “I’ve increased the services and programming, and I hope my successor will carry on with that.”

Some of the changes included having a public Christmas party, developing the Makerspace, with people using the virtual reality programs and the 3-D printer.

“When I first got here, we were in the middle of this renovation project with the reading room, which is used all the time,” she said. “At first, I wasn’t sure when we decided to create a reading room that it would get used as much as it does. But there’s always people in here.”

Butler also led the effort to replace the mashup of desks and tables with a circulation desk area, which offered storage and a place for each person to work. She also revamped some of the roles of the staff.

“We brought in Tom (Currivan) as a technology coordinator,” she said. “In today’s world, you’ve got to have somebody on staff to not only manage the technology here, but to help people in the community. We have a lot of people coming in with laptops and smartphones that need help using them. And that was really my vision for his role, to be a community resource.”

Through the Rumford Public Library’s membership with the Maine West collaborative, and supported by the Maine Public Library, the library will soon be getting a children’s bank of six computers.

“So I do feel like I’ve accomplished something while here,” Butler said.

Though Butler is moving on, she said she won’t be far away in spirit.

“This opportunity came along and it just seemed like the right time,” she said. “I’ll still be working with books. I’ll always love books. I’ll just be working on the publishing side.”

Public farewell Monday
Trustees will host a public farewell for Butler beginning at 2 p.m. Monday in the Public Room.

“We are just planning a small affair with the trustees, staff, a few town employees, and friends of the library,” Trustee Jerrold Cohen said. “Members of the public surely are welcome.”

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