Regarding Joe Sullivan's article on PBA, as both a former library branch manager and as a main library staffer, I will relate my firsthand experiences and observations of their "reign." ["PBA's Maintenance Mode," Insights, Sept. 30, 2010] PBA descended like the Grinch on Whoville, stripping the library of any and all tools, equipment, supplies, etc. that they could get their hands on. They even seized the library vans that were needed to transport materials for patrons between branches. Such acts resulted in some library staff purchasing, out of pocket, tools for minor adjustments/repairs that PBA refused to do, such as tightening a pencil sharpener to the wall. Despite contracting to maintain our status quo, PBA refused to perform many needed services such as moving furniture and shelving. I know of at least two branch managers that bought toilet paper for their branches because PBA was lax in providing supplies. I called in an emergency repair and was asked if it could "wait until tomorrow" because the on-call person "was watching a football game!"
When inquiring why standard service calls were not being addressed, I received constant whining excuses from the managers of the PBA departments about too many buildings to manage, not enough staff, etc. We could not even get light bulbs replaced! There was always an excuse. When inquiring as to when a leaky roof would be repaired the roofing contractor stated to me, "Lady, we got PBA contracted buildings that have had the tarps on them for over six months." At Lawson McGhee, I regularly saw two security guards that were supposed to be patrolling and monitoring the public floors at Lawson McGhee sitting, laughing, and chatting with each other in non-public areas of the building for extended periods of time. PBA contracted for the needless installation of electrical ion air purification outlets that sickened and overwhelmed staff with their "emissions." PBA removed window blinds that library staff had to reinstall to keep the sun from reflecting off their computer screens. ETHC [East Tennessee History Center] had a water heater leak that PBA attempted to plug with a piece of wood.
I could go on and on but suffice it to say, the library system's maintenance and buildings improved 1,000 percent once PBA's "reign" was overthrown. Library staff was pleased to see them go...and dread any prospect of their return!
Terry Lee Caruthers