'On library vans, we're just looking for information'

Last modified: 10/15/2011 12:00:00 AM
Re 'Rep targets federal inter-library grant' (Monitor front page, Oct. 7): The shoddy reporting on library vans from the Monitor's Annmarie Timmins, not to be confused with your paper's two fine State House reporters, Matt Spolar and Karen Langley, is surprising.

Here's the background. As part of the trailer bill, House Bill 2, the Finance Committee added language that Cultural Affairs should look into the possibility of more efficiently using federal funds for four inter-library loan vans. That was because we were told that even if we wanted to cut from four back to one, two, or three vans, we couldn't save money because it was all federal funding.

The language remained in the committee of conference, and apparently the state librarian has begun the task. But rather than do what he was asked to do, he's scaring librarians around the state into the belief that the vans are going to be cut this year.

That is not true. We simply asked to get more information so that a future Finance Committee could make more informed decisions. After all, at a time when we're cutting funding for the developmentally disabled and legal assistance and any number of worthy programs, I find it impossible not to scrutinize the need for four vans running books around the state.

Here's the problem with the media: The more time you devote to answering reporters' questions, the more likely they'll get it wrong, either through incompetence or in a deliberate attempt to make you look bad. I spent a great deal of time with Timmins, answering everything she asked in great deal.

What are the thanks I get? She quotes me as saying I'd be happy not to get books on inter-library loan so quickly. Of course I never said any such thing. I made it clear that if we could save money to use for other projects, I wouldn't mind waiting a few days. That's a big difference from saying I'd be happy, and it suggests deliberate bias rather than simple incompetence by a reporter.

The Monitor, like librarians who believe the disinformation spread by a department head, is being used for nefarious purposes.

Any day when I find the New Hampshire Union Leader accurately reporting my quotes and the Monitor missing the boat is, well, it's different.

(Steve Vaillancourt is a Republican state representative from Manchester.)

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