Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Open Letter to Bitterroot Public Library Board of Directors


First, I want to make it clear that neither I, Dixie Stark, nor Literacy Bitterroot, aka Literacy Volunteers of America- Bitterroot, authored or signed the letter to the Bitterroot Public Library (BPL) recently discussed in the newspaper. I did not even see this letter until after it had been delivered to the library.

The BPL initiated the literacy program in the fall of 1987 with funds from a grant from the Kellogg Foundation.  In the past 30 years, thousands of Ravalli County residents have been helped to learn basic skills in reading, mathematics, and language, or to pass their high school equivalency diploma, or to gain skills needed to get a job or enter training. Without the BPL and their vision, none of this would have been possible.

We benefited from the structure and administrative support provided by the BPL that allowed the literacy program to grow and thrive and eventually required more space and resources than the BPL could readily provide. When Literacy Bitterroot was asked to move out in 2002, we moved to the Human Resource Council, where we still rent office and classroom space.

We rent space so we have access to private settings for talking about test results or goal setting and so we can provide confidential services to our adult students, as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Our classrooms are not open to the public; our services are.

I am a strong defender of First Amendment rights, and I have loved libraries all my life. Literacy programs and libraries are the most natural of community partners. Please, let us remain positive partners no matter what your decision about this issue.

Dixie Stark, Executive Director

Literacy Bitterroot

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