Weber v. President, Sherman Library Association
A library association performs a governmental function by operating a town's public library; in fact, governments have operated public libraries since about 300BC, when King Ptolemy I (305-282BC) established the Great Library of Alexandria, a public library open to all with the proper qualifications. Mark Weber appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the Sherman Library Association and its president violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to comply with his records request and the access to meetings requirements of the FOIA. The respondents claimed that they were a private organization not subject to the FOIA. The FOIC considered whether the library association was the functional equivalent of a public agency within the meaning of C.G.S. §1-200(1)(B), applying the test from the 1980 Connecticut Supreme Court case of Board of Trustees of Woodstock Academy v. Freedom of Information Commission. The FOIC determined that the library association performed a governmental function by operating the Sherman public library and that the level of government funding was high. Although it contributes half of the association's annual budget, the town is not involved in the operation of the association or library. The extent of governmental involvement or regulation was small. But, based on the cumulative consideration of all relevant factors, the respondents were found to be the functional equivalents of public agencies within the meaning of C.G.S. §1-200(1)(B) and bound by the provisions of the FOIA. The respondents did not permit the complainant to attend a board of trustee meeting and did not file notice of their meetings with the town clerk in violation of C.G.S. §1-225. The respondents did not provide the complainant with requested copies of minutes and documents containing itemized cost estimates for an addition to the library. The records requested were found to be public records within the meaning of C.G.S. §1-200(5), §1-210(a) and §1-212(a). The respondents violated the FOIA by failing to disclose such records to the complainant. The respondents were ordered to provide copies of the requested records to the complainant and to strictly comply, henceforth, with the FOIA.