To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I’m writing in response to a letter that ran in last Sunday’s Eagle by Daniel Bartoni. Mr. Bartoni, before you accuse elected officials of lying to the public, before you call for the firing of hard-working town employees, in fact, before you publicly accuse anyone of doing anything dishonest, please be very careful about checking your facts. People’s reputations are at stake.
You accused the Ramsdell librarians of counting patrons when they come into the library and counting them again when they exit, thus doubling the estimate of patron visits. You go on to accuse the librarians, or the trustees, you aren’t sure, of doing this to intentionally inflate the patron usage numbers. I’m not sure where you got that information but it is simply not true.
The patron count at the Mason library is done by electronic door counters that count every time a body passes through. That number is divided by two, since we assume everyone who walks in also walks out. If someone walks into and out of the library twice in a day, they are counted twice. That is why we report the number of library visits, not the number of unique library patrons.
The Ramsdell in Housatonic is more accurate. An actual person (the librarian) counts people when they come into the library. They are not counted again as they leave. In fact, if the patron leaves and comes right back -- maybe they left a book in the car -- they are not counted again since the librarian most likely knows the patron by sight. Nothing dishonest is going on here.
If you don’t think Housatonic residents need a branch library, say so. If you think cutting that service to Housatonic residents is the best way to help reduce taxes, say so. You can make that argument and other voters can agree or disagree with you. But please stick to facts.
When people’s reputations are at stake it is not fair to shoot first and aim later. Next time please take a moment, check facts and make a few inquiries first. You owe a few people an apology.
The writer is a Ramsdell Library trustee.