Nied quits as Whiting Library trustee, resigns from other Chester town offices

By Shawn Cunningham and Cynthia Prairie
© 2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Robert Nied explains the details of the greenhouse project.  <small>Telegraph file photo July 2021.

Robert Nied, the embattled chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Whiting Library in Chester, has resigned from that board as well as from every other position he holds within the town.

In an email sent today, Wednesday, May 25, to the Chester Select Board and the Whiting Library Board of Trustees, Nied cited “intense personal attacks in my role as Chair of the Whiting Library Board of Trustees.”

Turmoil at the library came before the public eye less than 10 days ago, following Library Director Deirdre Doran’s May 12 resignation. Doran resigned  nine days after Nied first objected to a scheduled summer reading event called Drag Queen Story Hour, in which two Burlington drag performers read books of acceptance and inclusivity to children throughout the state, in libraries and at special events. DQSH was just one of several summer events scheduled by Whiting Youth Librarian Carrie King.

Some board members believed the program too controversial and wanted it either cancelled or paused; there was confusion over exactly what was being asked. Doran, however, objected to the trustees getting involved in staff programming decisions, which are, according to accepted library policy, independent of trustee responsibilities.

You can read the letter in its entirety here.

Between the time that the board first learned of the event, which already had been promoted through the library website and with posters, and Doran’s resignation, Nied found website content of the two performers that he found even more objectionable.

On May 11, he emailed fellow Trustee and board Treasurer Ed Grossman that it was “beyond comprehension to think that Deirdre did not vet the two presenters” and that a young person going to the site might see that content.

“I am deeply concerned that we are sitting on a time bomb here,” wrote Nied, “I have revised my position. This program must never go forward and both Deirdre and Carrie must be reprimanded for scheduling a program and not vetting the presenters who have pornographic content on their website. I also think action should be taken immediately.”

Doran tendered her resignation the next day. The board met and accepted Doran’s resignation, which will become effective on June 30. Doran is currently on vacation and unavailable for comment. Nied did not return a phone message by publication time.

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Doran’s resignation and the reason behind it sent shockwaves through the community, many people citing her professionalism and work ethic, and several wondering how the Whiting Library could find another high-caliber director with a board that does not allow the director to be independent.

In his letter of resignation, Nied said the verbal attacks have been “unprecedented in their hostility, baseless, uninformed, untruthful, and some are motivated by personal malice. In the last several days I have faced insults shouted from a passing car and several public comments that cross the line into defamatory.”

While Nied has been attacked by some as not supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, one of his close family members is in that community and he has been active in supporting it.

Nied also wrote that as the attacks continue, “they will apply undeserved pressure on my family and will eventually impact their right to live a peaceful and meaningful life. They will also spill over to the amazing and dedicated colleagues and the critically important institutions that I have had the privilege of working with and for. That undeserved collateral impact is unacceptable to me.”

He said he would “leave public service to others who are willing to step forward.” Besides resigning from the library board, he is giving up seats as a justice of the peace and member of the town’s Board of Civil Authority and from the new Local Cannabis Control Commission.

Nied noted, “While I have not lost my affection and respect for the community in which I have enthusiastically volunteered, it has certainly been challenged.”

Nied moved to Chester from Richmondville, N.Y., with his wife in the fall of 2017 to take a job as Town Administrator and Zoning Administrator in Londonderry, bringing with him an extensive background in community and rural preservation. He resigned almost one year later to the day, telling the Telegraph that he has a “basic desire to spend more time with” his wife and son and to ”pursue some deferred personal interests.”

Members of the Londonderry Select Board praised his work and Town Clerk Kelly Pajala told The Telegraph,  “We are very sad to see him go. He’s done a hell of a job.” She called him “level-headed and very thorough.”


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  1. Kate Matracia says:

    Well, so we have haters for hate’s sake in Chester, Vermont. Interesting.

    Let it go, people. Turn all your hate into something positive for this town instead of blowing so much hot air and yelling and squealing about whatever is the hot topic without any knowledge about what you squeal. Do something useful instead. By the way, are the yellers and squealers volunteering for anything helpful to the town or just blowing more hot air as they sit back and see what their vitriol stirs? Which of them are doing actual good things for this town like Robert Nied has done since he arrived here?

    This entire mess smacks of bullying and mob rule. It stinks of anger at everything pinpointed on something or, in this case, someone. Robert Nied has been willing to spend his time helping Chester, Vermont, grow and flourish through the Whiting Library and in many other ways. He is one of the most inclusive people I have every met as well as ethical, moral, and straightforward. Can the haters attacking him say the same about themselves? How many of them have spent their so much of their time and energy volunteering to grow the health of our community? Robert Nied did not and does not deserve such attacks from uninformed people who would rather yell and squeal than listen to the facts, who would rather not do their research about a situation but just take the “highlights” and use them to fuel their general anger about everything.

    One message of advice: Get over yourselves, get over your hate, and get busy growing the best of our town.

    Kate Matracia

  2. Arlene Mutschler says:

    I will ask one question. Have anyone look at the website for these two people?? The website seen by him?? I have and you can draw your conclusion. Good night and good luck

  3. When will one of Chester’s millionaires purchase the library so taxpayers can ease the burden of paying for everything? Then they can do anything they want to. This would make perfect sense.

  4. Tim Roper says:

    The irony of this situation is that those who are so loudly professing a need for more understanding and compassion seem to be showing little of either when it comes to the library board members. I understand that the implications of the board’s actions are deeply hurtful but maybe making fewer assumptions and asking additional questions would provide us with a healing path forward.

    Here are a couple. I wonder why someone who’s clearly compassionate, thoughtful and caring about others, including the LGBTQ community, would feel so much pressure to immediately take down the DQSH announcement? Was there some outside source of pressure, or the fear of such pressure coming to bear over announcing this program? If so, where might that pressure have originated?

    I’m also curious to know the vice chair’s reply to Nied’s text; the one of which the screen shot was included with the second Telegraph story on this issue. That reply may or may not give us additional insight to the attitude of the board.

    I don’t know the answers to these questions and I haven’t seen them addressed by anyone commenting, or by The Chester Telegraph. Why not? If we are thinking, caring, compassionate, fair minded people ourselves, isn’t it incumbent upon us to do our best to be fair with folks we have decided we don’t like?

    To be clear, I am neither condoning the actions of the board of trustees, nor minimizing the pain caused by those actions. I’m simply trying to better understand the why’s of this.

    Wouldn’t it be terrific to salvage some positivity by engaging in a town-wide dialog to foster greater understanding of the ethical and emotional issues that have been brought to light? That’s the only way I see to turn these negatives into positives. Let’s come together and work to better understand each other.


    I’d like to make some important points about this. For many people, including me, I was not one who thought this event was particularly appropriate for young kids. I also agreed with the trustees that the content on the presenters’ website could be problematic and that they should in the future, have a site dedicated to the story hour, without these links. It would solve this issue.

    I know several of the trustees and they are all good, caring and smart people. My frustration was strictly about policy and procedure. The way this happened was wrong, and trustees should not have been trying to manage the director in this manner; it is not their job. The director resigned because she was given no option. Reprimanding the director and children’s librarian and deciding what is seen and not seen at the library was a direct violation of the policy they agreed to support when they accept the position.

    I was even OK with the mistake. All it would have taken was an admission, more transparency, and a statement that they were learning the ropes, and understood, for the future. The town received nothing like this however, and everyone who expressed concerns were blatantly told they were wrong by Mr. Nied. People became frustrated over this, and the rhetoric became more and more heated.

    For the record, when people attacked Mr. Nied for being anti LBGTQ, I rose to his defense. This man is a powerful example of open-mindedness and caring regarding this, and nobody should think otherwise.

    Again, at least for me, this was about policy, execution of duty, and the threat to the vital role of free speech a public library holds. The trustees are entrusted to understand this vital role and protect it, and they did the opposite, despite my sharing some of their concerns. These concerns could have been expressed in other ways, openly, and without violating the Library Bill of Rights, and misuse of executive session. I do not believe this was about hate in any way, for any of the citizens who were expressing concerns.

  6. Thom Simmons says:

    I read Mr. Nied’s letter. No apologies. No admission of mistakes. No effort at reconciliation or healing (quite the opposite: innuendos of “defamation.”) It can be summed up as a petulant teenager yelling, “It’s everybody else’s fault!”

    Let’s get on now with repairing the damage done to the library, it’s employees, and the community.

  7. Stu Lindberg says:

    Welcome to volunteer public service in Vermont. Any wonder why no one steps up to fill essential positions in local government.

  8. Patty Mahaffey says:

    Fabulous reporting by the the Chester Telegraph!

  9. Lori Quinn says:

    This saddens but doesn’t surprise me that Robert has quit. No one deserves the type of judgment and hate that has been directed towards a volunteer . I’m sure many will think more than once before they step up and volunteer to help this community knowing you can be stereotyped , judged, demeaned, demoralized and scorned for doing the best you can. The “ cheap seats” have spoken and now lets see who is going to step up in his place.
    Lori Quinn

  10. Vincent Annunziata says:

    As a Londonderry Selectboard member, gotta say that this was a dubious course of action to take. Get rekt.

  11. Raymond Makul says:

    Rehire the librarian to her old job, with a 25% raise.

  12. Don Dalton says:


    After all, “hate has no home here,” right?

    Er … that is, except for ideas and opinions we hate. Then it’s OK to hate. We don’t even have to understand those ideas, we just gotta … well, hate. Simple.

    I love the civility and the decency of so many who think along the “hate has no home here” lines, because I’m so tight with that philosophy.

    So gotta hate Mr. Nied and attack him personally, because … well, because hate has no home here!

    I get it. I think. I mean, does or does not hate have no home here? That’s what’s confused me. Are we, or are we not, a civil people? Or maybe yes, we are a civil people, it’s just that we gotta hate the right things, and the right things are whatever we think they are.


  13. Honor C Hingston says:

    Not before time.