- Written by By Theodore Flynn & Elaine Winquist
- Published: 27 January 2008
The restoration of $20,000 is of great help, but the article does not explain that the library appropriation will be $50,000 less than needed to maintain services at the current level, and $38,000 less than needed to retain its state certification.
To accommodate this reduction in funding, the library will reduce services from a seven day to a six day a week schedule. This means that beginning July 1st, the library will be closed on Mondays. Staffing will be reduced by 70 hours per week, which includes the loss of a full time administrative position, three library pages, and a part-time professional.
Funds for staff development and programs have been eliminated. Lines for books, audiovisual materials, magazines have been reduced by 4%. We hope to fund these through the generosity of the Friends of the Library.
The Duxbury Library was one of 65 (out of 273 libraries in the Commonwealth) that was forced to apply for a waiver from the state’s Municipal Appropriation Requirement due to our budget reduction. The Board of Library Commissioners granted this waiver on February 7th with the caveat that it would not look favorably upon communities who disproportionately cut funding to their public libraries in FY05.
To help the community understand its obligation to its public library, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
<b>What is state certification?</b>
In order to be a certified public library, the Board of Library Commissioners requires that public libraries meet statutory requirements each year. Without certification, the library cannot receive state aid nor apply for federal and state grant monies. Residents may not be able to borrow materials from other communities. The library must receive a municipal appropriation that is equal to the average of the appropriations for the three previous fiscal years increased by 2 1/2%. Capital appropriations are excluded.
<b>Duxbury is a wealthy community; why can’t the library operate with gifts and donations?</b>
No amount of gifts and donations can substitute for appropriated funds. The library does receive private gifts and donations, and the library trustees actively pursue those, but it is mandated that library operations be funded with tax dollars.
The selectmen and town manager have been diligent in this difficult budget process to ensure that all departments are appropriately funded. They are embroiled in a fiscal crisis that is state-wide; however, the Commonwealth will require Duxbury to appropriate approximately $972,000 for next year and we are budgeting $934,631. We require $984,000 next year just to keep the same level of services as this year.
<b>Are there other requirements for public libraries to be certified in Massachusetts?</b>
Yes, the library must have complied in the prior fiscal year with a set of minimum standards that include: be open to all residents, make no charges for normal library services, be open a minimum number of hours per week, employ trained library personnel, expend a reasonable portion of the library's budget on library materials, lend books to other libraries in the commonwealth and extend privileges to other libraries.
<b>Why can’t the library use volunteers in place of paid staff?</b>
The library “employs” a full complement of 25 volunteers. These volunteers provide 40.5 hours of labor per week or the equivalent of a full time employee. Volunteers are considered unpaid staff and are expected to work a consistent weekly schedule, are given extensive training, and are considered part of the library family. They perform tasks that enable regular staff to concentrate on upper level work. They are supervised by professional staff. They cannot, however, fulfill the obligations and activities of professional librarians ñ- collection development, cataloging, reference, technical services, children’s services, community services, and administrative librarians.
Remember that your library is a crucial part of education. Its staff is highly educated and the majority hold advanced degrees. It provides collections of materials that support and supplement public and private school curricula, study space and assistance to students, and training to students, parents, and teachers. It offers top-notch reference assistance and Internet access to adults and children, meeting space to tutors and small study groups, and a wide variety of cultural and educational programs to all ages. It offers life-long learning support to all residents.