Are Libraries Threatened?

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One of my favorite places to visit on the Web is Humans of New York. It is a photographer’s daily chronicle of  people he encounters in the city. He recently posted this picture and exchange with a gentleman at New York Public Library. Many of these insightful comments apply to all of the 16,415 public libraries in America. It certainly captures how I perceive the mission of the Seekonk Public Library. The library primarily serves readers and expects to do so for a long time.  The library is also in the information business. The library provides access to new information technologies and trains people in how to use it. The library is also what Ray Oldenburg described as that “great good place”. The library strives to be a welcoming, communal space where people of all ages can comfortably come together to learn, work and share ideas. — Peter Fuller, Director

HumansOfNY

 

“I don’t think the library is threatened. Circulation of physical books has never been higher. But I wouldn’t even agree that libraries are in the book business. I think they are in the information sharing business. And it just so happens that books have been the primary method of sharing information for half a millennium. The library isn’t going to compete with the internet. It’s going to be part of the internet. New York libraries have one of the greatest collections of information in the world, and one of our goals is to have it all curated, linked, and navigable.”

 “But once you’ve uploaded all your information, haven’t you made yourself obsolete?”

 “Absolutely not. Libraries provide a third space that is neither home or work, where people can come together and do thinking work. There will always be that need. And a third of New York depends upon the library system for not only free books, but free computers as well.

Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2014

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The Seekonk Public Library has been providing high quality library service from its facility at 410 Newman Avenue since 1981. Each year the library takes up the challenge to respond to residents changing needs and  their increasing demand for library services. Through careful management  and creative application of public and private resources, the library has met and in some cases, exceeded the expectations of its users.

This task has become increasingly difficult, however, as the library struggles to deal within the limited space with its building.  In fiscal year 2014, the library took the first tentative steps to address its facility needs. Voters who attended the Town Meeting in November 2013 passed two articles to initiate a study of the facilcity needs of the library. The facilities study is the first step in a multi-year process that we hope will result in the Town obtaining millions of dollars in state construction funds.

Seekonk Meadows, the passive recreation area adjacent to the library began it’s third full year of operation. Thousands of people visited the Meadows in fiscal year 2014 to walk its pathways and appreciate nature. Many more attended concerts and other events on the Meadows that were produced by the library. The Seekonk Meadows Management Committee, who played a pivotal role in bringing Seekonk its first public park, continues to oversee the use and development of the Meadows. The Board of Trustees thanks them for their efforts.

In 2014, the library opened a special area called, the Innovation Center. The library placed a variety of high tech tools in the Innovation Center including a 3-D printer and  two large i-Mac workstations. The workstations provide access to sophisticated software suites from Apple and Adobe. On-line instructional programs from Lynda.com are also available in the center. The Innovation Center was funded by a generous gift from the Seekonk Library Trust.

The library’s Dollars & Sense program, which seeks to improve  participants’ personal financial management and investing skills came to a conclusion in the Spring of 2014.  The two year program was funded by a $98,818 grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Fund and was administered through the auspeces of the American Library Association. The funding allowed the library to provided thirty-six informative and useful programs that had a total of 1,241 attendees. The Board of Library Trustees congratulate the grant manager, Senior Librarian Michelle Gario and all of the staff who assisted her in making this program a success.

The library was open a total of 2,608 hours last fiscal year.  With few exceptions, the library was able to maintain its six day, fifty-three hour a week schedule. People visited the library 110,272 times last fiscal year, which averages to approximately 2,120 people per week.

In fiscal year, 5,504 people used their cards at the Seekonk Public Library last fiscal year. The library issued or renewed 778 library cards. Nineteen of these cards were issued to out-of-state residents who paid $60 to obtain a one year card.These annual fees were part of $30,022 in total revenues raised by the library last fiscal year. In addition, the library raised approximately $17,637 in late fees last year.

The primary attraction of the library is its diverse and interesting collection of materials. The library’s collection offers over 108,803 items. Books and other printed materials account for approximately seventy percent of the collection. Electronic resources (CDs, DVDs, electronic books) account for the remaining thirty percent. In 2014, the library greatly increased the number of Blu-Ray video discs and electronic games in its collection. The library also increased the availabilty of electronic books through the OverDrive system. These new resources are part of an overall effort to develop a collection reflective of the needs and interests of the residents of Seekonk.

One indication of how successful these efforts have been is that Seekonk Public Library consistently has one of the highest per capita lending rates in the state. Library users borrowed 250,648 items in fiscal year 2014. Included in this circulation total are approximately 16,0000 electronic resources that people downloaded either at the library or from home.  Many Seekonk residents took advantage of the library’s membership in the state-wide library network, and 32,858 items were borrowed from other libraries. Seekonk Public Library lent 42,275 items to other libraries. Because Seekonk Public Library was a net lender, the library received additional state aid.

The many programs and classes offered by the Seekonk Public Library were another major attraction of library users in 2014. The library offered seventy-three adult and teen programs last fiscal year. Programs and classes had a combined total attendance of 2,953. The library offered 334 programs for children and families. These programs had a total attendance of 8,515. The 2013 summer reading program was again a great success with 397 children participating. Various groups and organizatons used the library’s main meeting room 554 times last year. All of these programs supplement and support the library’s larger mission to promote life-long learning, childhood literacy, personal health and well-being, and democratic discourse.

The library has a total staff of nineteen people. Eight are full-time employees and six of these are state certified librarians. Library staff members take great pride in the personal services they provide. Last year, the library staff members provided reference assistance and personal instruction 9,977 times. Many of these questions involved using the electronic resources available for downloading and the on-line computer databases. In fiscal year 2014, the library expanded this effort to include individual instruction on using e-book readers and tablet PCs. Staff members assisted the public with their personal devices or one of the many devices owned by the library. The staff also devoted a great deal of time to assisting people who use the library’s thirty-nine public computers or who connect their personal devices to the library’s Wi-Fi service.  On average, 254 people used the public computers at the library each week. This personalized instruction is part of the library’s larger effort to train people to be knowledgeable users and consumers of new information technology.

The library could not be the popular and effective service it is without the support of the community. The library is fortunate to have the support of many individual volunteers, and two non-profit organizations, the Friends of the Library and the Seekonk LibraryTrust. Money raised by the Friends of the Library supplements the basic services paid for with tax dollars. These popular additional services include the museum passes, family night programs, and the summer concert series.  In fiscal year 2014, the Friends of the Library donated approximately $18,000 for these and other services. The Seekonk Library Trust was established to solicit and accept donations from private sources for library purposes. The focus of the Library Trust is on addressing long-term needs of the library. The Library Trust, for example, provided most of the funds needed to develop the library’s Innovation Center. Both organizations are important parts of the public and private partnership that provides quality library service to the people of Seekonk. The Board of Trustees wishes  to thank both organizations on behalf of all Seekonk Public Library users for their help in making fiscal year 2014 a truly exceptional year.

In conclusion, a critical ingredient to the library success is hearing from you about the job we are doing. We welcome your comments, complaints and recommendations. For your convenience, the library has setup an email account, trustee@seekonkpl.org for you to contact the Board of Library Trustees.

Respectfully Submitted,

BOARD OF LIBRARY TRUSTEES

Michael Durkay, Chair
Sharon Connors, Vice Chair
Mari Ann Oliveira, Secretary
Richard Perry
Ann Caldwell
Cheryl Faria
Lynn Cristino

Heating Problem

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The library’s heating system has developed a major problem. The heat cannot be turned on until it is fixed.  The Department of Public Works has arranged for it to be repaired and we are hopeful that it will be fixed soon. We do not expect the temperature in the building to dip below a comfortable level but it may feel a bit cool, particularly in the mornings. Staff members will be bringing sweaters and fleeces just in case. I am recommending that library users do the same until this problem is resolved. We will be posting updates about the repair and other building-related issues here and on the library’s Facebook page. 

Emergency closings of the library will be announced on the library’s webpage, on Facebook, and by Twitter. They will also be announced through the Rhode Island Association of Broadcasters emergency service. Closings, delayed openings, and program cancellations appear on all of the Rhode Island television stations. You can also obtain this information by visiting the websites of these stations, for example, WJAR, Channel 10 in Providence.

Library Designs From the N.E. Tech Students

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In 2012 and 2013, interior design students of Associate Professor Mia Alwen at the New England Institute of Technology undertook redesigning the Seekonk Public Library as their semester project. We have been asked to share these designs again with the public.  The links below are to the student’s final presentations. These presentations were originally done in PowerPoint, but were converted to pdf files for viewing on this site. Unfortunately, the quality is slightly diminished. These presentations are displayed here with the permission of the students and the NEIT. Please respect their intellectual property and do not make unauthorized copies. Thank you.

Library Card Sign-up Month

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September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Seekonk Public Library, the American Library Association and libraries across the country wish to remind parents and caregivers that a library card is an essential back-to-school item. Assisting students is an important part of our mission. Our staff works closely with teachers and school librarians to provide the information your student will need. If you know someone who has not visited the library recently, please tell him or her about all of the things that your public library has to offer. You can also just forward this email! Getting a library card is easy. People can even apply on-line. Teachers, we appreciate your encouraging students to get library cards. Please also let your colleagues know that the library offers special library cards for educators. Visit the library website to learn more about getting a card, and we look forward to seeing you at the library. – Peter Fuller, Director

An Open Letter to Library Users in Rehoboth — Please Support Blanding Library

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Dear Library Users,

We understand that the Town of Rehoboth faces a significant financial challenge.  As your neighbors, we are reluctant to weigh-in on next week’s  Proposition 2 ½ Override vote, but we are also seriously concerned about the possibility of the Blanding Public Library not receiving  sufficient funds to retain state certification.    As library users, I want you to know the ramifications if the Blanding Library is decertified.

The loss of state certification would mean that the Blanding Library would no longer receive the full benefits of membership in the  Massachusetts Library System.  This could have a devastating impact on the Blanding Library and adversely affect Seekonk Public Library and other libraries as well.  The Blanding Library and Seekonk Public Library are both members of the SAILS library network as well as the Massachusetts Library System.  Both of these organizations are only as strong as their individual members. It is vitally important that each member library contribute its fair share, and this starts with meeting the needs of your own community.

I have learned that some residents of Rehoboth believe that they may use other public libraries in the area if the Blanding Library should close or significantly reduce its services. This is not the case at the Seekonk Public Library. The policy of the Seekonk Public Library, as approved by the Board of Library Trustees, is to limit service for all residents of any community that does not have a certified public library of its own.  Rehoboth residents will be welcome to visit the Seekonk Public Library if the Blanding Library is decertified, but they will not be able to borrow materials, use our computers or sign up for programs.

Some have commented that this policy does not reflect a “neighborly” attitude, but inter-library cooperation is based on the idea of reciprocity. Each member library is expected to provide a minimal level of library services and to make those services available to any resident of the Commonwealth.  This is not possible when a library fails to meet minimum standards and is decertified. Communities that allow their libraries to become decertified are in effect telling their neighboring cities and towns that they don’t wish to meet their obligation to provide an important public service and are willing to transfer that burden to their neighbors.  Such actions do not reflect a “neighborly” attitude.

My sincere hope is that Seekonk Public Library will be able to continue serving you in the coming year. This can only happen if the Blanding Library remains a strong, contributing member of the state-wide network.  I urge you to support whatever measures will help secure sufficient funding for the Blanding Library to retain its state certification.

Thank you for considering my request, and best wishes.

Peter Fuller, Director

Seekonk Public LIbrary 

Seekonk Meadows Anniversary Celebration, 2014

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The Seekonk Meadows is an extraordinary community resource. On June 21, the community celebrated the third anniversary of the opening of the Meadows with music, art, kite flying, storytelling and a host of other activities. Some pictures from that day can be seen below. We greatly appreciate everyone who was involved in making this summer kick-off a great success, with special thanks to Cheryl Faria and the Seekonk Meadows Management Committee who planned this event. I also wish to thank the Seekonk Artist Network that arranged for local artists to display their work both inside the library and on the Meadows. I also wish to thank the library employees who helped with the planning, staff the library information booth, and stayed late that Saturday so the library could remain open throughout the event. Finally, I wish to thank the Public Works Department for maintaining the Meadows and helping to keep it an attractive place to visit. I hope to see you next year at what I am sure will be an even bigger and better celebration.

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Library information booth 

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Master Gardeners’ Display 

 

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Local Artists at Work on the Meadows

 

 

Mass. Audubon Storyteller

Children Listening to the Mass.  Audubon Storyteller

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Home-made Kites Over the Meadows

 

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Works of Local Artists Displayed Inside the Library

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Paintings by Local Artists Hung in the New Exhibit Space

 

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Seekonk receives an additional $50,000 for the Library Facilities Study

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 The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) has awarded the Town of Seekonk a $50,000 Planning & Design Grant to study the library’s building needs for the next 20 years and to develop schematic designs and cost estimates for developing such a facility to meet those needs. This funding matches the $25,000 appropriated for the same purpose as the Special Town Meeting in November. Seekonk was one of 20 communities to receive a grant from among the 28 that applied. See the MBLC press release below for additional information.

 

MBLC Awards nearly $1 Million for Planning and Design

On June 5, 2014, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) voted to award provisional Planning and Design Grants totaling $959,425 to twenty communities across the Commonwealth. The grants are part of the MBLC’s state-funded Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP). “We’re grateful to the Governor and the Legislature for their recognition that libraries are a vital part of our communities, “said MBLC Chair Frank Murphy.

The MPLCP helps libraries across the state meet the growing demand for library services with expanded and improved library facilities. “Libraries are busy,” said Murphy. “But it’s no longer just about books. Libraries are where people turn for help with technology, for support starting a business or for help looking for a job. The role of the library as a true community center continues to evolve and these grants help communities take the first step toward projects that benefit every resident.”

Twenty-eight library applications went through a rigorous independent grant review process. Libraries were selected based on many factors including community need, an understanding of future trends in library services, integration with the library’s long-range plan, support from local officials and a plan for community input.

Planning and Design Grants may be used for preparation of a library building program, architectural feasibility studies, engineering analysis of an existing building or alternative sites, schematic design, cost analysis of options, site investigation, and project management services. Planning and Design Grants are capped at $50,000 or two-thirds of the eligible project costs and require local match funding of up to $25,000. Libraries must secure this local match by January 31, 2015 to accept their grant funding. These grants and the support provided by MBLC Building Specialists benefit libraries that anticipate applying for Construction Grants from the MPLCP in the future.

This is the fifth planning and design grant round offered by the MBLC since 1999. To date, the MBLC has awarded 81 Planning and Design Grants.  Through the MPLCP, more than 200 communities have completed library construction projects.

Funding for this grant round is made possible through a 2008 state bond authorization by the Patrick-Murray Administration and the Legislature. Library construction projects in Athol, Buckland, Dudley, Boston (the East Boston and Mattapan Branches of the Boston Public Library), Falmouth, Foxborough, Granby, Holyoke, Mashpee, Millis, Walpole, Westhampton, West Tisbury and Westwood were completed with MPLCP grants from the 2008 authorization in conjunction with local match funding. MPLCP projects are currently underway in Eastham, Edgartown, Everett (the Shute Memorial Branch of the Everett Public Library), Framingham (the McAuliffe Branch of the Framingham Public Library), Reading, Salisbury, Scituate, Shrewsbury, South Hadley  and West Springfield. For more information please visit the MBLC’s website.

 

Planning and Design award details are below:

Provisional Awards Recommendations
Municipality Library Award
Amherst Jones Library Inc. $50,000
Chester Hamilton Memorial Library $41,205
Dartmouth Dartmouth Public Libraries: North Dartmouth Branch $50,000
Dighton Dighton Public Library $50,000
East Bridgewater East Bridgewater Public Library $50,000
Erving Erving Public Library $50,000
Falmouth Falmouth Public Library: North Falmouth Branch $38,860
Greenfield Greenfield Public Library $50,000
Hadley Goodwin Memorial Library $50,000
Kingston Kingston Public Library $50,000
Littleton Reuben Hoar Library $40,000
Lynnfield Lynnfield Public Library $50,000
Nahant Nahant Public Library $49,245
North Attleborough Richards Memorial Library $50,000
Seekonk Seekonk Public Library $50,000
Springfield Springfield City Library: East Forest Park Branch $50,000
Sutton Sutton Free Public Library $50,000
Upton Upton Town Library $44,220
Westborough Westborough Public Library $45,895
Westford J.V. Fletcher Library $50,000