On the surface, the brouhaha over the transfer of the Euchee Creek Library director to the Evans facility looks like a no-win situation.
But not even those involved should judge this book by its cover.
Uprooting library director John Welch was traumatic for him, and angered patrons, some 300 of whom signed a petition opposing the transfer after he'd run it since its opening in 1994.
Nor did Columbia County commissioners take pleasure in standing up for the transfer by administrators and facing angry constituents over it at a recent meeting.
Yet, the truth is, all parties can come out better on the other side -- if they want to.
The library could be run better. Welch was upbraided for having dressed inappropriately and sleeping in the break room over lunch, for instance, and books were in great need of being shelved. We're also told there was quite a bit of trash to be hauled off.
This case also could serve as a wakeup call to county officials -- who were at least figuratively sleeping on the job themselves by not supervising Welch better and documenting problems and prescribing remedial plans.
Patrons of Euchee Creek have shown their loyalty to Welch -- and it's heartwarming to see. Now they have a chance, though, to turn their affections to the library and its new director, Keisha Evans.
They can start by using the library's resources for all they're worth. That's what it's there for. If their passion for learning is anything like their devotion to Welch, that will be a success story in itself.
They can throw in a warm welcome for Ms. Evans, a Harlem graduate and neighbor.
Mr. Welch, meanwhile, can feel eternally grateful for the support from friends and patrons. He can be the best reference specialist possible in Evans. And by enduring the transfer with grace and determination, he can come out the biggest winner of all.
Perhaps the most lasting thing county officials can take from this difficult episode is how fervently residents feel about their libraries.
And really, that's a no-lose situation.