The Board of Library Trustees will discuss two important topics at their meeting on Wednesday, September 25. The first is the possible renovation or expansion of the library. At this meeting, I will present an overview of the building planning and construction grant process. More information about this can be found on the library blog. The second topic is the proposed construction of a Veterans Memorial Park on land adjacent to the library and the Seekonk Meadows. At the last meeting of the Library Trustees, representatives of the Veterans Memorial Committee presented a modification of their original proposal. Follow the links below to view these two proposals. These projects are closely linked because of the limited availability of town-owned land that is both adjacent to the library and suitable for construction. The Board of Trustees wishes to hear from the citizens of Seekonk on these issues affecting the future of the library. The Library Trustees plan to vote on the memorial proposal at this meeting. I know that the Library Trustees will greatly appreciate your attendance at this important discussion. The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. and will be held in the large meeting room. – Peter Fuller, Library Director
In June, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) announced that it would be starting another round of library construction grants. These grant rounds occur at five to eight year intervals. On average, the state has awarded fifty percent of the total eligible costs of library construction projects. To receive a construction grant, a library must engage in a complex and highly competitive process. Earlier this month, the Board of Trustees sent a letter of intent to the MBLC to officially notify the commissioners that Seekonk will be applying for a building planning grant. Seekonk Public Library has taken the first step in that process by stating its intention to seek funds to study the facility needs of the library and how those needs can best be met.
Developing a library facility that will meet the needs of a community for the next twenty-five years is an extremely complex and difficult task. State officials recognize this difficulty, so the MBLC grants money to libraries to do thorough studies before embarking on a building project. The MBLC wants to see a well-developed plan before the commissioners will consider awarding millions of dollars for construction. These planning grants fund activities in the initial study phase of a building project. These activities include service needs assessments, site selection and evaluation, construction feasibility studies, schematic designs, and cost analyses. In short, it will provide a study committee composed of Seekonk citizens with all of the information needed to make informed choices on how to best meet the facility needs of the library.
Planning of this type is expensive because it requires the skills of architects, engineers, designers, and cost estimators. We anticipate a total cost of $75,000. If Seekonk is awarded a planning grant, the MBLC will fund up to $50,000 of that cost.. We anticipate a costly analysis because of issues with the library’s location. The library building was constructed on the site of a closed landfill. Although the old landfill has been capped, the options for expansion are extremely limited. The landfill cap extends up to the current library building and under the library parking lot to about where the drive-up bookdrops are installed. The MBLC will require the library to explore alternative locations before the commissioners will award money for construction. Although relocating the library is unlikely, this additional investigation will add to the overall cost of the study. The library will have a small head start with the study, however. Some of the engineering information collected as part of the 1999-2000 effort to expand the library may still be valid.
I will be making a brief presentation on the construction grant process at the next meeting of the Board of Library Trustees, which will be at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 25 at the library. All meetings of the Library Trustees are open to the public, and we invite you to attend. We welcome your comments and questions. As always, please feel free to email me or the Board of Trustees, or use the feedback form by clicking the tab to the left.
– Peter Fuller, Library Director
Each August, all of the public libraries in the state submit a report to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). The report titled, the Annual Report Information Survey or ARIS for short, provides a large amount of data on each library’s services. Library staffs spend a lot of time to make sure that their ARIS filings are complete and accurate because it is a requirement to remain eligible for state grant-in-aid money and membership in the statewide network. You can see the aggregated data at the MBLC website, but we wanted to share some of the highlights of fiscal year 2013 with you now. As you can see from the data below, thousands of residents of all ages used the library last year.
• The library lent 282,204 items to Seekonk Library cardholders and other libraries;
– 158,660 were lent from our adult and young adult collections.
– 84,822 items were lent from our children’s collection.
– 38,722 items went to other libraries in the network.
• Library users visited the library over 106,000 times.
• Since January 1, 2013 a total of 5,265 people have used their Seekonk Public Library card;
– Over 90% of these are Seekonk residents.
– 323 are Massachusetts residents who do not live in Seekonk.
– 174 are out-of-state residents, who either paid $65 to obtain a card or who work for our town.
• The library produced 373 programs with a total attendance of 9,470;
– 7,405 were attendees at programs for Children and Families.
• Library users asked 13,734 reference questions.
• The public used library computers approximately 13,000 times.
• The library received 2,415 hours of volunteer service.
It is pleasure for us to serve a community like Seekonk whose people value library service. We appreciate the support that you have shown us and the library staff this past year. Please let us know how the library can serve you better in the future. You can email your comments, questions and suggestions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Library Director Peter Fuller at email@example.com.
When I was young I wasn’t really afraid of the dark. I was more afraid of the snakes my brothers kept in the basement. Well, in this picture book story young Laszlo was afraid of the dark that lived in the basement. Laszlo knew the dark lived in other places like corners and hidden places in his house, but the basement was really scary to him.
Simple, but nice, illustrations depict dark and light as characters, in a way. At one point Laszlo picks up his flashlight and follows the dark downstairs into the basement. What he discovers is that he needn’t be afraid of the dark. This dark turned out to be good.
Snicket has a great way of luring you into his stories and this one is no different. He creates a mood that draws you in and then, you see the light!
Great author, great book, great story!
Hope you enjoy it…Mary Ellen
The Seekonk Public Library is excited to offer its patrons free “Wowbrary” email alerts that showcase the library’s newest items each week. The alerts feature the latest bestsellers, movies, music CDs, audio books, children’s titles, cookbooks, mysteries, travel guides, health books, science fiction and more purchased by the library.
The alerts help those interested in just specific topics, as Seekonk Public Library Adult Services librarian Michelle Gario points out. “It only takes a mouse click to see the newest arrivals in the categories you’re interested in. There are separate sections for nonfiction, fiction, recreation and more. You can quickly review and reserve our newest books from the convenience of your computer.”
Wowbrary alerts are free and do not require a library card. Go to www.wowbrary.org to sign up or learn more.
You can now pay library fines and fees with a credit or debit card with a new service offered by the SAILS network called SmartPay. Library users have been asking for this convenient method of payment for several years. After several months of study and field testing, SmartPay has proven to be easy to use, secure and confidential. You can pay your fines and fees from wherever you can access the internet. All you need is a credit card, library card number and pin number. A link to the service can be found both on our website and the SAILS network catalog.
Here is some additional information about SmartPay.
- Smart Pay transactions are secure. SmartPay complies with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS), and your transactions are protected by SSL certification, a protocol for transmitting data securely.
- Your information is kept confidential. SAILS Library network and participating public Libraries do not collect or store any personal information or credit or debit card processing data collected from the SmartPay site.
- SmartPay requires a minimum $2 payment which can consist of multiple fines. There is a 45 cent credit card processing fee per transaction not per individual fine paid.
- Library fines and fees are cleared automatically from your library account during the payment process.
- A failed transaction may leave a pending charge on your account. These “pre-authorized” amounts normally clear within 24 hours
- When you select SmartPay you are leaving the library website and have been directed to SmartPay, an online resource to pay library fines and fees. Technical requirements and services are the sole responsibility of SmartPay.
- The service is being offered through the SAILS library network. When using SmartPay, you agree to accept and assume all risks and responsibilities for the losses and damages that may arise from your use of SmartPay and release the SAILS Library Network and its member libraries from all liability.
- This is strictly self-service. Under the terms of our agreement with SAILS, library staff members are not allowed to handle credit cards. We will be happy to answer questions and guide you through the process.
- You can only pay fines accrued at libraries using the system. As of today these libraries are Lakeville, Middleboro, Norfolk, Norton, Seekonk and Wrentham. Dartmouth, Halifax, Marion, and Plainville will be starting soon.
Seekonk Public Library is excited to offer our card holders access to over
3 million songs to download for free with Freegal Music Service.
You may have read on-line or seen on television a story about a proposal to construct a memorial to Seekonk’s veterans and how it is being blocked by the Board of Library Trustees. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” There is a divergence of opinion on this issue, but these are the facts. As library users and advocates for its services, I thought that you would find these facts useful.
The Veterans’ Memorial Committee wishes to build a large permanent memorial on the Seekonk Meadows. This is the passive recreation area adjacent to the library. The Board of Selectmen granted permission to build a memorial on the property in front of Town Hall. There is already an approved site for this memorial. It is just not the preferred location of the Memorial Committee.
Instead, the Memorial Committee wishes to use a space along Newman Avenue adjacent to the library parking lot. This site is sometimes used as overflow parking when there are large events on the Meadows. The loss of overflow parking is not a major issue for the Library Trustees. They recognize that this space is only needed a few times a year. A spokesman for the Memorial Committee would have you believe that this is the principal reason for the Trustees’ opposition to the memorial as currently proposed. This is a red herring that is being used make the Trustees appear to be totally unreasonable.
The Trustees believe that the veterans of Seekonk are deserving of a special memorial. The Trustees’ primary responsibility, however, is to consider the town’s current and future library service needs. The Trustees have shown themselves to be open-minded and willing to discuss proposals put forth by the Memorial Committee. They have tried to find a reasonable way to balance the competing demands for library service and a way to honor the veterans. The Trustees have taken the time to carefully review the schematic drawings for the proposed veterans’ memorial. The Library Trustees invited members of the Memorial Committee to make a presentation at their regular monthly meeting. After that presentation, the Trustees spent the better part of two meetings considering the proposal. Their decision not to support construction of the proposed memorial was deliberate and thoughtful.
The Board of Trustees had several concerns about the impact of the memorial on the Meadows and the library. Chief among these concerns is the strict limitation that the memorial would put on the ability of the library to expand in the future. This was ultimately the deciding factor in the Trustees’ decision not to support the memorial plan presented to them. The capping of the landfill has limited the amount of land that can support a building to a narrow strip along Newman Avenue. Construction of the memorial as currently proposed along Newman Avenue would effectively prevent any future expansion of the library on this site.
The Trustees shared these concerns in an email written to Don Kinneburgh, chairman of the Memorial Committee. The Trustees have offered to consider alternative proposals, and they have invited the Memorial Committee to consider modifications in the design that would accommodate the library’s needs as well as their own. To date, the Memorial Committee has not responded to the Library Trustees’ invitation. The leadership of the Memorial Committee has apparently chosen instead to wage a media campaign against the library.
Part of this campaign appears to be to disparage the value of the library and the desires of those who wish to see this library expand and improve services. Use of the library continues to grow and evolve with your needs. I anticipate that this will be the case well into the future. Expanding the Seekonk Public Library is a real need. The Trustees, staff, and the library’s Strategic Planning Committee have all reached the same conclusion. The library building not only needs a major rehabilitation but additional space should be added if the library is to provide the services required by the people of Seekonk over the next twenty-five years. The Trustees will be studying this possibility in earnest later this year. The new long-range plan for the library has two specific strategic objectives related to building this space. The first of these objectives is to apply to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for a planning grant. These grant applications will be due in September 2013. The grant will be used to prepare a facilities plan based on the library’s current and anticipated program of service, to conduct a site investigation and if need be, a site selection, to prepare an assessment of the structure, and to develop construction cost estimates. Assuming that the library receives this grant, we will be starting a comprehensive study of how to best address the library’s facility needs this winter. It is imperative at this point in the process to keep all of the building options available for consideration. I am sure that many options will come to light during the facility study, and I am sure that you would want the best option to be ultimately selected. If the Trustees were to allow the construction of the veterans’ memorial as currently proposed, they may also be eliminating the best choice before the study begins. The Trustees do not believe that this is in the best interest of either the library using public or taxpayers.
Another red herring is the issue of who controls the library. The Trustees have been portrayed as having a proprietary attitude to the Meadows and thwarting the will of the public owners of the property. The Meadows is town property, and it belongs to all of the people of Seekonk. As is the case with the library building, Seekonk Meadows has been entrusted to the care and management of the town’s elected Board of Library Trustees. The Board was assigned administrative responsibility for the Meadows by a unanimous vote of Town Meeting in 2010. Under Massachusetts law, library boards are afforded a good deal of autonomy. The governance of public libraries is somewhat analogous to that of public schools. This is due in part to an understanding that libraries can only serve all of us effectively when they are insulated from political manipulation and pressures of special interest groups. This independence helps libraries be responsive and accountable to the entire community. Until proven otherwise, I choose to think that as popularly elected officials, the Library Trustees reflect the majority viewpoint in our community. Their only agenda is to fulfill the responsibilities for which they were elected to the best of their ability.
I have worked with dozens of Boards of Trustees in my thirty-one years of library service. This group of Trustees is exceptional. They are reasonable, thoughtful people who take their responsibilities seriously. They are dedicated to providing library service to the people of Seekonk, and on many occasions, they have demonstrated a willingness to put the larger interests of the town first. They are above all forward thinking and believe in planning for the long-term. They deserve our support.
Please share this information with your friends and neighbors. I welcome your questions and suggestions. Please email me or call me at the library, 508-336-8230, extension 101, and thank you for your on-going patronage and all of your past support.
Peter Fuller, Library Director