Your 24/7 Library

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Your public library makes a remarkable number of resources available on-line. You can access most of the library databases and services from any place with an internet connection — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   I know that some people will say that this is a harbinger of the end for public libraries. Why will libraries remain important in the future when so much is available on-line? Here is one reason to consider.

In an increasingly complex world, our economic security, personal well-being and quality of life depends on making informed choices. This requires ready access to reliable, accurate and verifiable information. Most of the free information available on the internet, however,  is suspect for one reason or another. The internet has certainly expanded the stock of information and made it more widely available. This has not altered a basic economic fact that QUALITY information remains comparatively expensive. Public libraries originated as a communal response to the problem of obtaining books when books were quite costly. Today, books are less expensive and more accessible, but the high cost of other sources of information put them beyond the reach of the average person.  A subscription to a database such as Chilton’s, Morning Star, Gale’s Legal Forms, and Standard & Poor’s, for example, costs over a thousand dollars. The on-line instruction provided by services such as Mango Languages, Lynda.Com and The Learning Express are equally expensive.  This is why communities continue to use their public libraries to harness their collective purchasing-power to provide everyone with relatively inexpensive access to databases, on-line instruction, e-books and other electronic media. Public libraries will continue to be relevant in the future because they will remain a viable method to obtain economically and distribute democratically the kind of high quality information that we all need.

In the coming months, I will be using this space to discuss the question of the future of libraries. I encourage you to join this discussion by emailing me your thoughts on the subject. I also encourage you to explore some of the resources listed on The Status & Future of Public Libraries, which is the companion page to that of the Library Facilities Study Committee.

Board of Library Trustees Meeting

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The next meeting of the Board of Library Trustees will be Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sullivan Room at the library. The meeting agenda is as follows:

    1. Meadows Management Committee
    2. Veterans Memorial Construction Plans (See site plan in meeting packet)
    3. Collective Bargaining with Library Staff
    4. Building Facilities Study Committee (See info in meeting packet)
    1. Library Director’s Performance Evaluation ­– Discussion
    2. Recruit new member for the Board of the Seekonk Library Trust
    1. Review FY 2015 Annual Report to the Town – Discussion
    2. Review of FY 2015 Action Plan – Discussion
    3. Recommended Changes in FY 2016 Action Plan – Discuss
    4. Review Capital Budget Request for FY 2016 – Discuss & Vote
    5. Programming at SPL – Discussion
    6. By-law Study Committee
  • UNANTICIPATED BUSINESS – Items that could not be reasonably anticipated by the chairperson more than 48 hours in advance of the meeting
    1. None
  • DIRECTORS REPORT [July 16, 2015 to September 11, 2015] – Questions & Discussion
  1. a) Appoint a person to take minutes
  2. b) Discuss recommendations of the ad hoc committee (Sharon C. & Ann C.) that reviewed the director’s contract
    1. Discuss agenda for the next meeting
    2. Set next meeting date

Library Facilities Study Committee Meeting

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The the next meeting of the Library Facilities Study Committee will be on Thursday, September 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Sullivan Room at the Seekonk Public Library. Everyone is welcome to attend the committee meetings. If you wish to address the committee, please contact the chairperson, Anne B. Miller prior to the meeting. The primary business will be to discuss the request for proposals from architectural firms to conduct feasibility studies and to develop design concepts.  The meeting agenda is as follows:


I.  Review and approve minutes from the September 3, 2015 meeting

II. Old Business:

RFQ status and update

III.  New Business

Review DPM process for assessing RFQ submissions

IV.  Comments from the public

V.  Additional topics that could not be anticipated 48 hours in advance of the meeting

VI.  Discuss agenda for the next meeting and set a date

Library Positions Available

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First of Two Listings

Part-time Customer Services Associate

Posted: August 12, 2015

Department: Seekonk Public Library

Job Title: Customer Services Associate

Duties/Description: Customer Services Associates provide direct service to library users primarily by: checking-out, renewing, reserving and requesting library materials; issuing library cards and maintaining library records; responding to user inquiries and requests; recommending books and other materials that may be of interest to the user; instructing users in how to use library equipment and other services, including electronic services; explaining to users the policies and rules of the library and network, and resolving routine problems and referring users to other who can provide further assistance. Customer Services Associates also check-in materials, re-shelve materials, and process inter-library loans. Customer Services Associates may also select or recommend materials for acquisition, and engage in other activities related to the improvement or expansion of the services they provide.

Minimum Qualifications: Applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Applicants must be capable of operating a cash register, a personal computer, and related peripheral devices. Applicants must have basic knowledge of current Windows operating system, and Internet browsers and social media applications. Preference will also be shown to those with experience using of the automated library computer systems and the SIRSI/Dynix in particular.

Other Required Skills and Abilities: Customer Services Associates must have a strong commitment to public service and have the ability to interact courteously and patiently with the library users. Applicants must be able to communicate effectively with users and co-workers.
Applicants must be capable of understanding and executing the operational routines defined by the policies and procedures of the library and the SAILS network. This position is covered under a collective bargaining agreement. Starting rate is $14.17 per hour.
A familiarity with public library services and practices is highly desirable. Preference will be given to those with prior library work experience and/or those with work experience involving direct service to customers. Applicants must be able to work as a member of a team, adjust their activities to fluctuating demands of library users, and perform task despite frequent interruptions.

Hours & Conditions: This is part-time position, less than twenty hours per week. Work schedule includes some evenings and Saturdays.

Closing date:  4:00 p.m. August 24, 2015

To Apply: Please state your interest and qualifications in a letter addressed:
Peter Fuller, Library Director C/O Town Administrator’s Office  Seekonk Town Hall  100 Peck St.  Seekonk, MA 02771
AND enclose a completed Town of Seekonk Employment Application form. These can be obtained at the Town Administrator’s office or downloaded from the Town website at No emails please.

Second of Two Listings

Part-time Staff Librarian

Posted On:  August 10, 2015

Department: Seekonk Public Library

Job Title: Staff Librarian, Adult Services

Duties/Description:  Staff Librarians provide professional services and other forms of assistance directly to library users. Duties include professional services in the areas of reference, collection development, programming, instruction, technology support, and other tasks needed to provide core library services for adults and young adults.

Minimum Qualifications: This position requires a Master’s Degree in Library Science from a program accredited by the American Library Association, certification from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, and a successful completion of a professionally supervised public library internship or an equivalent combination of at least one year of training or experience in a public library providing direct service to the public.

Skills and Abilities Required: Staff Librarians must have a strong commitment to public service, an ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing, work independently with minimal supervision, and possess an ability to assess and take appropriate actions. Candidates must have a broad and demonstrable knowledge of current and emergent technology including mobile devices and social media.  A working knowledge of integrated library systems, preferably SirsiDynix, and experience with WordPress is desirable.

Hours:   Nineteen (19) hours per week.

Salary: The starting rate is $22.23 per hour and increases in three annual steps. This is a 19 hour part time, non-exempt position covered under a collective bargaining agreement with the Town. 

Closing dates:   Internal Applicants must apply before 12:00 (Noon) on Friday, August 21. Applications from those not currently employed by the Town of Seekonk will be considered until the position is filled.

Send: Please submit a resume with a letter stating your qualifications to Peter Fuller, c/o Office of Town Administrator, Town Hall, 100 Peck Street, Seekonk, MA 02771 or send fax to (508) 336-3137. No emails please.

Service Opportunities

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Would you like to be more involved in the community while also helping to strengthen and improve the Seekonk Public Library? If so, there are several opportunities available for you to help your library.  We are seeking service-minded library users to run for the Board of Library Trustees, to serve on the Board of Directors of the Seekonk Library Trust, or to serve on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Library.  These three organizations are vitally important to the success of the library.  Past and present members of all three boards have known the personal satisfaction of helping a service that is so important to town residents. I know that you could find it rewarding as well, and I will be happy to speak with you about joining one of these boards.   Descriptions of each board and its duties are described below. If you are interested in learning more about any of these positions, you may reach me by calling (508) 336-8230, ext. 5101 or sending an email to  Thank you for helping us provide the best library service possible.

– Peter Fuller, Library Director

Board of Library Trustees – Under state law, the Library Trustees are responsible for the administration of the public library.  In the case of the Seekonk Public Library, this also includes the Seekonk Meadows. The Trustees are responsible for making library policy, planning, and approving budgets and major expenditures. The Trustees also administer state grant-in-aid funds.  The Board of Library Trustees generally meets monthly. This is an elective office, and if you decide to be a candidate you will need to obtain signatures from at least 50 registered voters by February 17, 2015 to be placed on the ballot. We can help you collect those signatures.

Seekonk Library Trust – The Seekonk Library Trust is a private non-profit, tax-exempt organization. The Library Trust was established to receive large gifts and bequests to the Seekonk Public Library.  The Seekonk Library Trust provided funding for both the Seekonk Meadows and the library’s Innovation Center.  The most visible activities of the Library Trust in recent years have been their annual appeal for donations to the New Century Fund, and the awarding of the annual St. Hilaire Public Service Award. This Board meets four to six times a year. There are two openings on the governing board of the Seekonk Library Trust. Both new members will be appointed by the Board of Library Trustees.

Friends of the Seekonk Public Library – The Friends of the Seekonk Public Library is another non-profit, tax-exempt organization that raises money to expand and enhance library services.  The money raised by the Friends of the Library pays for museum passes and special programs such as Family Nights and many of the Summer Concerts. The Friends manage the booksale in the lobby and conduct other fundraisers throughout the year. The Board of Directors generally meets monthly.  Any member of the Friends of the Library may serve on the Board of Directors. The Friends Board appoints its own members and elects its own officers.

Survey on Library Hours

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The library greatly appreciates the help of the 519 people who took the time to participate in the recent survey on library hours. Although the library continuously collects data on how and when it is used, it was extremely helpful to have some direct feedback from users. The survey indicated a strong desire to have the library open earlier and close later on Saturdays. Many of the people surveyed wanted the library to open at 9:00 rather than 10:00 on weekdays. There was also strong interest in opening the library on Sunday afternoons during the school year. More study will be needed, however, to determine the financial feasibility of adding Sunday hours. The Board of Trustees has requested a small increase in the operating budget for fiscal year 2016 base on this survey data.

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



“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 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, for you to contact the Board of Library Trustees.

Respectfully Submitted,


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