Please Vote to Postpone Parking Article

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The Board of Library Trustees requests that you vote to postpone consideration of Article 4, which is on the warrant for the Special Town Meeting on Tuesday, February 25. This article seeks to have the Town appropriate $90,000 to develop parking behind the library. This parking is intended to accommodate unusually large crowds at events at the library and on the Seekonk Meadows.  Additional parking is needed for these events, but there is currently adequate parking for the four or five occasions when it may be needed.  We anticipate that this parking will be available for the foreseeable future, and that there is no immediate need to develop more parking.

 The Trustees feel that Article 4 is an expensive solution to a problem that has not been fully studied. The parking needs of the library will be examined by the Library Facilities Study Committee as part of its assessment of the library’s building needs. This committee, which Town Meeting authorized last November, has just started its work. The Trustees recommend that this committee be allowed to comprehensively study the parking issue and related needs before the town makes this large investment of capital funds.

 The Trustees believe that there is time to examine alternative solutions without adversely affecting the operation of the library or impeding progress on the construction of the proposed Veterans Memorial. In a four to one vote, the Board of Selectmen decided to recommend that consideration of this article be postponed indefinitely.  The Board of Library Trustees fully supports this recommendation, and asks you to do the same the night of the Special Town Meeting. Please vote to postpone consideration of Article 4.

The Trustees thank you for considering their request, and as always, they encourage you to share your ideas and concerns by emailing them at trustees@seekonkpl.org

 – Peter Fuller,  Library Director

Annual Town Report for Fiscal Year 2013

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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, exceed the expectations of its users. This task has become increasingly difficult, however, as the library struggles to deal with the limited space with its building.  In fiscal year 2013, the library took the first tentative steps to acquire funds to address these needs in the future.

In September 2012, the Board of Library Trustees initiated the process to re-write the library’s long-range plan. This was the first total fresh approach to the plan since 2003. The library recruited a strategic planning committee that was broadly representative of the community and of several key library user groups. The committee delivered a final draft of the plan after several months of hard work. In June 2013, the Library Trustees adopted the plan, which was subsequently approved by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The long-range plan will guide the delivery of library services  through June 2017. The Trustees wish thank all the members of the committee for their efforts on behalf of the library.

                        Seekonk Public Library Strategic Planning Committee

                         Mia Alwen                        Guy Boulay                 Ann Caldwell 

                         Michael Durkay              Mark Holme                 Edith Krekorian 

                         Zachary Medeiros          Christina McKenrick    Paul Palange 

                         Beverly Rathbun            Jennifer St. Michel       David Turkalo

                         Susan Tusino

Seekonk Meadows, the passive recreation area adjacent to the library began it’s second full year of operation. Hundreds of residents visited the Meadows in fiscal year 2013 to walk it 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 thank them for their efforts.

The library’s Dollars & Sense program, which seeks to improve  participants’ personal financial management and investing skills became fully operational in fiscal year 2013.  The two year program was funded by a $98,818 grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Fund and is administered through the auspices of the American Library Association.

 The library was open a total of 2,600 hours last fiscal year. This total was down slightly because the library was closed several days due to Super Storm Sandy and a blizzard in February.  With these few exceptions, the library was able to maintain its six day, fifty-three hour a week schedule. People visited the library 106,083 times last fiscal year which averages to 358 people for each day open.

In fiscal year, 6,596 people used their cards at the Seekonk Public Library. Of these users, only 219 were out-of-state residents who either work for the town or paid $60 to obtain a one year card. The library issued 847 new cards last fiscal year. These annual fees were part of $29,101 in total revenues raised by the library last fiscal year. In addition, the library raised approximately $16,555 in fines last year.

The primary attraction of the library is the diverse and interesting collection of materials. The library’s collection offers over 105,500 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 of the total collection. In 2013, the library greatly increased the number of Blu-Ray video discs and electronic games in its collection. The library also increased the availability 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 243,482  items in fiscal year 2013. 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 26,966 items were borrowed from other libraries. Seekonk Public Library lent 38,722 items to other libraries.

 The many programs and classes offered by the Seekonk Public Library were another major attraction of library users in 2013. The library offered 111 adult programs last fiscal year. This figure includes the library’s popular computer classes. Programs and classes had a combined total attendance of 2,065. The library offered 262 programs for children and families. These programs had a total attendance of 7,405. The summer reading program was again a great success in 2013 with 337 children participating. 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 13,374 times. Many of these questions involved using the electronic resources available for downloading and the on-line computer databases. In fiscal year 2013, 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, 236 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 Library Trust. 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 2013, the Friends of the Library donated approximately $17,976 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, appropriated $25,000 to the library for the development a new computer center. Both organizations are important parts of the public and private partnership that provides quality library service to the people of Seekonk.

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 this email account, trustee@seekonkpl.org for you to contact the Board of Library Trustees.

Respectfully Submitted,

BOARD OF LIBRARY TRUSTEES

 Michael Durkay, Chairman

 

Virtual Library Tour

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Seekonk Public Library has embarked on a long journey to developing a better library building from which to serve you. We are currently working on a planning grant application that will be submitted to the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners in January.  At this early point in the process, it is impossible to say what your future library may look like, or for that matter where it might be located. I am confident, however, that this facility will reflect the unique character of Seekonk and the needs of its citizens. I thought that you might find it interesting to see libraries in other communities. Below are some links to websites of architectural firms as well as individual libraries that show their recently constructed, renovated or expanded facilities. I hope that you enjoy this virtual tour.  

                                  – Peter Fuller, Director

Finegold, Alexander & Assoc. (architects)

                 http://faainc.com/project_type/libraries/

Beacon Architectural Associates

                http://www.beaconarch.com/library.html

Drummey Rosane Anderson Inc.

                 http://draarchitects.com/index.cfm/portfolio/Library

Johnson Roberts & Assoc. (architects)

                http://jsrob.com/

Tappe Architects

                http://tappe.com/work.html

Oudens Ello Architecture

                http://www.oudens-ello.com/projects/cultural/

Lemer Ladds Bartells (architects)

                http://llbarch.com/projects/libraries/

Mass. Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC flickr page with several libraries)

                http://www.flickr.com/photos/28109221@N08/sets/

Westwood Public Library

                  http://www.westwoodlibrary.org/ (several photos)

Millis Public Library

                 http://www.millislibrary.org/millis/newlibrary.asp  (several photos, project history)

West Tisbury Public Library

                  http://www.westtisburylibrary.org/page.php?id=87  (plans)

Scituate Public Library (recently approved an over-ride)

                  http://scituatetownlibrary.org/about_libraryrenovationproject.html   (rendering & plans)

Granby Public Library

                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/granbylibrary/  (Photos)

Townsend Public Library

                     http://library.townsend.ma.us/category/image-galleries/new-townsend-public-library

Jesse Smith Memorial Library (Harrisville, RI)

                   http://www.film.ri.gov/galleryJesseSmith.html  

Cumberland Public Library (RI)

                  https://plus.google.com/106724565865072606535/photos

Flint Memorial Library (Middletown, MA)

                   http://www.flintlibrary.org/aboutus/rededicationnov2008.html  

Thank You for Supporting the Library

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Thank you to everyone who attended the Special Town Meeting on Monday to support the library.  All of us at the library greatly appreciate your supporting our efforts to move forward with the facilities study grant.  Your presence at the meeting  made the votes decisive, and it was powerful testimony that this is a community that values its library.  I hope that I may have an opportunity to thank each of you in person, but in the meanwhile, please know that we are grateful for your support both now and throughout the year. 

                                             Peter Fuller, Library Director

Three Warrant Articles Will Determine the Library’s Future

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full_signThe library has two articles on the warrant for November Town Meeting relating to the Massachusetts public library construction program. Article 12 is requesting $25,000 from Free Cash to fund a Library Facilities Study. The purpose of a facilities study is to (1) examine the community’s current and future library service needs, (2) determine the space requirements to satisfy those needs, and (3) develop appropriate and affordable solutions to meet those space requirements for the next twenty years. We anticipate that the total cost of the study will be $75,000. The state will grant the town up to $50,000 in matching funds for this study. In order to receive a state grant, the Town has to secure money for its share of the cost by May 16, 2014. The town must act now because the November meeting is the only meeting schedule between now and June.  Article 13 is requesting the formation of a citizens committee to oversee the study and the expenditure of funds. 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.  More than thirty communities are competing for these grants, so having the support of the voters is crucial if our grant application is to be successful.

There is also another article on the warrant that could have negative consequences for both the library and the Seekonk Meadows. Article 11 would reverse a unanimous vote of Town Meeting in 2010 to amend the Town’s By-laws to place the library building and the Seekonk Meadows under the custody and care of the Board of Library Trustees. The 2010 By-law change was intended to officially accept the library building in compliance with Massachusetts General Laws. It also provided official status to the Seekonk Meadows, which was created through the joint effort by private citizens, Town Government, and the Seekonk Library Trust (a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization). Article 11 was petitioned onto the warrant by the Seekonk Veterans Memorial Committee in response to a decision by the Board of Library Trustees to delay any action on the Committee’s request to build a memorial on the Seekonk Meadows until the library facilities study has had a chance to examine the site. If Article 11 passes, the library building and the Seekonk Meadows would be placed under the direct control of the Board of Selectmen, and the Board of Trustees will no longer make decisions on the use of the building and the Meadows.

Recent Changes in the Library

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The committee of citizens that drafted the Library’s Long-range Plan for Fiscal Years 2014 to 2017 identified several pressing needs. These include:

      *  more quiet study space,

      *  a space where people can work collaboratively,                              

      * a technology center with current computer hardware, software and other peripherals,

      * shelving for books and other materials so they are more accessible,

      * more shelving for the library’s media collection.

The library is attempting to address these needs within the limits of its available space. This effort has forced us to make some difficult choices, for example, the library had to reduce the number of tables and chairs in the public areas.  Some collections such as the paperbacks had to be drastically reduced in size. Other collections such as the town and state documents had to be moved into storage. We recognized that these changes will at best mitigate but not solve these problems. We hope that the net effect of all these changes will be to provide more and better service.

We also apologize for the noise and disruption, and we appreciate your patient understanding while the work is being done.  The target completion date for the project is December 31. Upon completion, we will be hosting an open house for the new technology center.

We thank the Seekonk Library Trusand all those who have generously contributed to it for providing the funds needed to make these library improvements. The Library Trust is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization that exists to support the library.  Please contact Peter Fuller, the library’s director at (508) 338-8230 ext. 5101 if you would like to learn more about the Library Trust.  

Trustee’s Letter About Town Meeting Warrant Articles

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The letter below is from the Board of Library Trustees and it appeared in the Rehoboth Reporter (online edition) on October 23, 2013. We have added it to the blog as part of the library’s on-going effort to inform you about important local issues. An opposing viewpoint by Doreen Taylor, a former Seekonk Selectmen, can be found on page 12 of the October 2013 (print edition) of the Rehoboth Reporter . This copyrighted publication cannot be reproduced here, but it is available in the library.   We encourage you to e-mail your comments and questions to the Library Trustees at  trustees@seekonkpl.org. –Peter Fuller, Director.

————————————————————————————————————–

An Open Letter to the Residents of Seekonk:

The warrant for the November 18th Town Meeting contains three articles that can dramatically affect the present and future operations of the Seekonk Public Library. As your elected Board of Library Trustees, we believe it is important to inform town residents about these articles and our position on them.

Article 11 is to transfer control of the library building, including access and use, and the adjacent Seekonk Meadows, from the Library Trustees to the Board of Selectmen. The transfer of the land and buildings was approved by Town Meeting vote in 2010, and this article seeks to reverse that decision. The Board strongly opposes such a move for the following reasons:

• The property in question has been managed in an efficient, successful and problem free manner by the Trustees on an informal basis since in 1980. In 2010, by Town Meeting vote, the Trustees were formally granted oversight of the property as provided by the General Laws of the Commonwealth.

• Since 2010, the property also includes The Seekonk Meadows, the only passive recreation area in Seekonk. The land has been managed with the cooperative effort of the Trustees, Board of Selectmen, The Meadows Committee and the Department of Public Works resulting in several programs being offered to support families and others.

• Funds for the establishment and ongoing beautification of The Meadows have been provided by donations from town residents under the auspices of the Seekonk Library Trust, an IRS-approved 503(c) organization.

Article 12 is seeking funding, $25,000, for the purpose of obtaining engineering, design, and architectural services for the expansion, refurbishing, or other related costs. If approved, the Commonwealth will provide an additional $50,000 in financial support.

Article 13 will authorize the Town Moderator to appoint seven town residents to a facilities committee for the purpose of examining the library facilities needs and in developing appropriate designs, specifications and other related materials pertaining facility changes.

The mission of the Seekonk Public Library is to enrich lives by fostering lifelong learning and by ensuring every member of the community has access to a vast array of ideas and information. Our library serves a broad range of the population of the community including individuals and families of all ages and make up, as well as students from our public and private schools. We are a destination for many of our senior citizens, veterans and others seeking resources or doing research.

It is vital that we have a library facility that expands and improves to meet the needs of our community. Accordingly, it is essential that Article 11 be rejected and articles 12 and 13 be accepted to ensure our public library continues to meet the needs of our community.

Board of Library Trustees

 

Library Construction Planning Grants

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In 2000, a Facilities Committee appointed by Town Meeting determined that the library building was inadequate for providing the services expected of a modern public library.  The library subsequently applied for and received a three million dollar construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners [MBLC] to undertake a major renovation and expansion of the library. At the time, the Town of Seekonk was not able to take advantage of this matching grant from the state, and regretfully, the funds were forfeited to other communities.  In June of this year, the MBLC announced the availability of library construction grants for the first time since 2005, and our town has another opportunity to develop a library facility that can serve the people of Seekonk for the next twenty-five years. 

The demand for library service as well as maintenance needs of the library building have grown significantly in those intervening years.  The library building is inaccessible to many in our community and in our estimation it continues to have inadequate space for the delivery of modern library services.  We also appreciate and recognize that the library service needs of our community continue to evolve, and that there is an on-going public discussion about those needs, both now and in the future.  Fortunately, the MBLC offers funding to communities to help them address these issues. The MBLC, as the initial step in the state’s construction grant program, provides money for proper and thorough planning before it will consider granting funds for the actual construction.

The MBLC planning grant program provides up to two thirds of the funds needed to do a complete assessment of the town’s library service and facility needs and to develop appropriate plans to address these needs. In our case, we estimate that this study will cost $75,000. In order to receive a planning grant, the Town must be must provide a third of the needed funds, which would be $25,000. Another condition of the program is that the Town establish a Facilities Study Committee (if it doesn’t have a standing municipal building committee) to oversee the planning process and the expenditure of funds.

The Board of Library Trustees has requested that two articles be placed on the warrant for the Town Meeting scheduled for November 18 to meet those requirements.  The first article requests that Town Meeting vote to appropriate funds from free cash, and the second article requests that Town Meeting authorize the Town Moderator to appoint a seven member building facility study committee. These are being placed on the warrant in November because the state requires applicants to secure local funding by May, which is before the time that Seekonk usually holds its Annual Financial Town Meeting.  

You will be hearing much more from the library staff and trustees about the warrant articles and the planning process in the near future.  Please e-mail me your comments, suggestions and questions, or send a quick message by clicking on the Feedback tab on the left.

Peter Fuller, Library Director