Friday, December 2, 2005
Gleason trustees seek to expand library services
Trustees of the Gleason Public Library arrived at the November 22 meeting of the Board of Selectmen with a list of new initiatives. Chair Brooke Cragan, Phil Conti and Priscilla Stevens, accompanied by Library Director Angela Reddin, pulled their chairs up to the head table in the Clark Room and gave the Board an enthusiastic description of their plans for fiscal year 2007. Cragan informed the Selectmen that the long- range planning process completed by the library in 2005 revealed that people are very happy with the library as a place and a resource. That said, the library trustees propose to continue offering a full spectrum of children's programming, expand the library's hours of operation and provide additional services. All they need is more money.
Cragan explained that the library was awarded a two-year grant in 2003 that provided funds for a children's librarian to offer story times and programs for children, programs for adults about early childhood development and literacy, and collection development. This grant ended in the summer of 2005. "Over the last year and a half, we have seen a consistent audience of 8 to 12 children and/or parents for the free drop-in programs offered through this grant," said Cragan. "We have tested times and days and are confident we can fill this need with a part- time children's librarian (Library Assistant I) at approximately four hours a week." The trustees believe that the children's staff is currently over-extended and needs someone specifically dedicated to children's services. "We cannot sustain all programming with our current staff," she emphasized. The budgetary impact is $2,500.
As many are aware, the library has requested and failed to receive funds for expanded hours for the last three years. The recent long-range planning process confirmed the community support for extended hours and the trustees feel that it is a straightforward way to provide more public town services to the broadest audience on a consistent basis. The survey revealed that Saturdays in the summer are the most preferred hours for expanded library service. Sunday openings came in third in the most- preferred opening category, edged out by three votes behind opening Wednesdays before 1 p.m. The cost to open on Saturdays in July and August (not including holiday weekends) is $3,400. "Libraries that offer Sunday hours consistently find it to be one of, if not the, busiest day of the week," said Cragan. An estimate for Sunday hours from Labor Day to Memorial Day is $20,000.
New staff classifications
Trustees would also like to add two new positions, a Staff Librarian and a Library Page, to the wage and classification structure. These requests are going before the Personnel Board and the budget impact has yet to be determined.
Chair Doug Stevenson of the Board of Selectmen thanked the library trustees for attending and welcomed their initiatives. No vote was taken, but several Selectmen admitted to frequent use of the library and voiced their strong support.
© 2005 The