Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2012

Print Friendly

Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2012

The Seekonk Public Library has been providing high quality library service from its facility at 410 Newman Avenue for thirty-one years. The needs of Seekonk residents have changed greatly, and the demand for library services has grown steadily in that time. Despite these challenges, the Seekonk Public Library has continued to satisfy the demands of its users. In fiscal year 2012, this achievement was all the more notable because of the unexpected death of Sharon St. Hilaire, the director who had guided the library for all of those years. Leadership of the library was transferred smoothly, however, when the Board of Trustees appointed Peter Fuller library director. With the support of this community and the efforts of a dedicated staff, Seekonk Public Library continues to meet and strives to exceed the expectations of its users.

Seekonk Meadows, the passive recreation area adjacent to the library also marked a historic transition. In June 2012, Seekonk Meadows was officially opened to the public. The Meadows was the fruition of many years of work by many individuals. The Seekonk Meadows Management Committee played a pivotal role in bringing Seekonk its first public park, and the Board of Trustees thank them for their efforts.

In fiscal year 2012, Seekonk Public Library distinguished itself when it became one of only seventy-five libraries from across the country to receive a grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Fund. FINRA awarded the library $98,818 for its Dollars & Sense program, which has the aim of improving participants’ personal financial management and investing skills.

The library was open a total of 2,631 hours last year. With only a few exceptions, the library was able to maintain its six day, fifty-three hour a week schedule. People visited the library 112,849 times last fiscal year. There are currently 8,652 Seekonk residents who have library cards. Last year, 833 new borrowers were issued library cards.  Approximately two hundred out-of-state residents each paid $60 last year to receive a Seekonk Public Library card. These annual fees were part of $12,000 in total revenues raised by the library last fiscal year. In addition, the library raised approximately $20,000 in fines last year.

The primary attraction of the library is the diverse and interesting collection of materials that it has developed. The library offers over 111,000 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 2012, the library greatly increased the number of Blu-Ray video discs and electronic games in its collection. The library also began circulating electronic books (e-books) on Nook e-book readers in 2012. 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 287,080 items in fiscal year 2012. Included in this circulation total are approximately 5,600 electronic resources that people downloaded either at the library or from home. Many residents took advantage of the library’s membership in the state-wide library network, and 28,422 items were borrowed from other libraries.

The many programs and classes offered by the Seekonk Public Library were another major attraction of library users in 2012. The library offered 139 adult programs last fiscal year. This figure includes the library’s popular computer classes. Programs and classes had a combined total attendance of 2,633. The library offered 228 programs for children and families. These programs had a total attendance of 6,719. The summer reading program was again a great success in 2012 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 10,069 times. Many of these questions involved using the electronic resources available for downloading and the on-line computer databases. In fiscal year 2012, 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.

In conclusion, it should be noted that 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 2012, the Friends of the Library donated approximately $16,000 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. Both organizations are an important part of the public and private partnership that provides quality library service to the people of Seekonk.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Seekonk Board of Library Trustees

 

Michael Durkay, Chairman

 

Seekonk Celebrates: Read!

Print Friendly

1. What is a community read?

Since 1998, hundreds of communities across the U.S. have embraced the idea of community reads as a tool for civic unity and discussion through a common literary experience. We thought this would be a wonderful way to celebrate 200 years of Seekonk town history and the wonderful people in our community.

Reading the book is only the beginning! We have planned a month long series of events based on the themes in the novel.

2. Why Empire Falls?

We felt that Empire Falls epitomizes life in a small New England town. As we celebrate our 200th town anniversary, this novel lends itself to discussion about the history of our town and its future. While anyone who enjoys a wonderful story can enjoy Empire Falls, Richard Russo writes for New Englanders in ways that few other authors have. Whether he is giving directions by “what used to be there” or describing the beautiful autumnal qualities that make up our region, there is a true passion for New England life that only a New Englander can understand and appreciate. This quality is what made it the perfect choice for our anniversary event and this first community read.

3. Do I have to read the book to participate in the events?

You do not have to read the novel to participate in these events. If you would like to know the story, but do not have the time to read the novel, we are showing the HBO miniseries of the novel on Saturday, October 13th beginning at 11 am.

4. My question is not answered here.

If you have other questions or comments about this program, feel free to call us at (508) 336-8230 ext. 130. You can also email Melissa at mchiavaroli@seekonkpl.org and she will be happy to answer all inquiries.

We would like to thank The Friends of the Seekonk Public Library for making this program possible with their generous sponsorship of Seekonk Celebrates: Read!

Is the internet making libraries obsolete?

Print Friendly

by Peter Fuller, Interim Director

Someone said to me last week, “we no longer need public libraries because we have the Internet”. Unfortunately, I hear that often. If it were true, I would expect that library use would be declining. The exact opposite is true. Use of the Seekonk Public Library is at an all-time high. This has been the trend nationally for the past several years. This comment did, however, lead to the following thoughts about the library and the Internet.

A major reason for this spike in library use is that more people are coming here to use the internet. Many people in Seekonk still do not have access to high speed internet service. Others can’t afford it. The library has become their internet service provider. It is well documented that library use increases in economic bad times. Providing internet service is just another aspect of our historic mission to provide information to all citizens.

The library recently launched a new program on the local public access channel, Cable TV-9. The show titled, Your Public Library, runs throughout the day and is also available at the TV-9 website, http://tv9seekonk.com/vod.php. One of the things that struck me after watching these shows was how frequently we refer people to the library’s website to “learn more about this” or to “sign-up for that”. It really is a gateway to a world of services, and we are adding new things all the time. I encourage you to take a few minutes and explore our website.

You may find it remarkable that so many of your library’s services are available online. You can obtain most of these services from your home or place of work. And it’s not just information about our services or access to databases. You can, for example, download e-books, recorded books and musical recordings. If you haven’t looked at this service recently, go to http://sails.lib.overdrive.com. You can do the same at Amazon of course, but it’s free at your library.

Librarians are trained professionals who can guide you through the internet labyrinth. Librarians add value to all of these services by making your Internet experience more productive and enjoyable. Take us up on it. Seekonk Public Library is ready to assist you- in person, on the telephone, and yes, over the internet.

Please email your questions and comments to me at pfuller@seekonkpl.org.

(This piece was previously posted in the Library’s February 2012 Newsletter.)

Internet access and filtering.

Print Friendly

by Peter Fuller, Interim Director

I wrote in a previous post about the important role the internet plays in providing library service.  Providing internet service is not without its challenges, however.  A public library system in Washington State is being sued because it restricts access to the internet by using filters.  Providing internet access is a complex issue that raises a variety of legal, philosophical, technical and operational issues for public libraries. There have been many court rulings at both the state and federal levels pertaining to the use of internet filters.  It has become a complex area of law, but the federal courts have generally ruled in favor of those seeking freer access the internet.  (See for example the ruling by the Federal District Court in Virginia, Mainstream Loudoun, et al. v. Board of Trustees of the Loudoun County Library, 24 F.Supp.2d 552.) This evolving legal environment has left our public library and those around the country wrestling with internet accessibility issues.

The Seekonk Public Library employs multiple strategies to prevent illegal or objectionable materials from coming through its computers.  The Library does limited filtering of internet traffic, for example, by using firewalls and other means. Traffic is filtered by type of format, internet address and internet protocols.  The Seekonk Public Library does not use software that filters based on content, however. This is the type of filtering which is the subject of the recent law suit in Washington State.  Seekonk Public Library is not unusual in this regard. The vast majority of public libraries around the nation do not use this type of filtering.  I think this is the case because most citizens believe that when the government imposes preemptive restrictions on our behavior, the results are ultimately more damaging than what it seeks to prevent.

The primary reasons that Seekonk Public Library does not use content filters are more practical than ideological, however. First, the best functioning filters are expensive to purchase and maintain.  Second, these filters don’t work well.  Even the very best filtering software is only marginally effective at blocking unwanted content. Third, these filters frequently block legitimate traffic which imposes a burden on the 99.99% of library users who follow our policies.

Access to the computers at the Seekonk Public Library is also strictly controlled. You must have a library card to logon to the library’s computers.  Library users may use their own devices to connect to the library’s Wi-Fi network, but they are still required to conform to the library’s internet policy.  Thousands of computer sessions are initiated by library users each year.  In the fifteen years that I have been here, people were found to be viewing something inappropriate in only a handful of cases.  Although these few instances were disturbing and upsetting, the library staff immediately intervened to stop the offensive behavior.

In each of these cases, the offender lost their computer privileges at the library. This is because viewing pornography or using the computers for any illegal purpose is explicitly prohibited in the library’s Internet Use & Safety Policy.  A portion of the policy appears below.

All patrons using the Internet must do so in a responsible manner. This includes: 

     *   Accessing resources only for educational, cultural, recreational and informational purposes.

     *  Not seeking unauthorized access to any computer system.

     *  Not displaying text or graphics which may be considered obscene as defined in MGL 272 § 31.

     *  Not using the Internet for unauthorized, illegal or unethical purposes.

     *  Not reproducing copyright protected materials without permission of the owner.

The library’s policies are thorough and legally sound. These policies support specific rules and guidelines for computer and internet use at the library.

The library also has effective and tested enforcement procedures to implement these policies. The library’s public computers are placed so that their use can be easily monitored by the library staff. While perhaps none of us can define pornography, to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, we know it when we see it.  And I assure everyone that our staff has no tolerance for it being viewed at the library. The strategy of the Seekonk Public Library is to rely on vigilance and strict enforcement rather than ineffective and costly software.

The library also employs a variety of techniques to protect children who use the internet. The library restricts internet access on the computers in the Children’s room.  A key tenet of the library’s internet policy is that parents should be responsible for their child’s use of the internet. The policy states that, “Restriction of a child’s access to the Internet is solely the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian.” The library empowers parents to enforce their decision by requiring all minors (those under the age of 18) to receive their parent’s permission to use the internet.  It should be noted that this restriction is a controversial practice within the library profession. This rule is indicative of Seekonk Public Library’s determination to err on the side of caution.

As you can see there are no simple answers for dealing with these complex issues.  The library staff and board of trustees take these issues seriously and consider them carefully.  I believe that we have responded reasonably and pragmatically, and in the best interests of all we serve.

Please email your comments and questions to me at pfuller@seekonkpl.org .

Trustees Award Application

Print Friendly

Application Form

The Trustees of the Seekonk Public Library are seeking to honor a graduating senior.  Any interested senior should fill out the following application and return it to the Seekonk High School guidance office by____________(deadline date).

 

Name________________________________________________________________________

 

College you plan to attend next year:________________________________________________

 

Please submit a typed, formal essay that describes your connection to the Seekonk Public Library during your years of schooling in Seekonk.  You may include your use of the library and its resources, experiences connected to the public library which have enriched your life, or influential books which you found in the library.  Be as specific as possible.

 

Please remember that your essay will be scrutinized by the Trustees and should represent your best writing.  Attach your essay to this form.

Recipients of the Library Trustees Award

Print Friendly
Mary Jo Flanagan 1979 Amanda Parker 1996
Gina Mayo 1980 Rachel Joiner 1997
No Award 1981 Jeffrey Kirchman 1998
Cheryl Grey 1982 Courtney Daigle 1999
Dawn Marshall 1983 Kelley Hayes 2000
Lynn Tomei 1984 Caitlan O’Grady 2001
Lisa Grey 1985 Nicole Menard 2002
Courtney Petters 1986 Lauren Armstrong 2003
Karen Ditson 1987 Melissa Leandro 2004
Chris Vartanian 1988 Erin Vecoli 2005
Kristen Lans 1989 Kristen Gridley 2006
Denise Sellers 1990 Kayleigh Medeiros 2007
Beatrice Favennec 1991 Amy Hindle 2008
Kristopher O’Grady 1992 Erin Ann Corry 2009
Stephanie Wexler 1993 Aric Mazick 2010
Kristen Hayes 1994 Zachery Holme 2011
Abigail Darling 1995 Michael Braunsdorf 2012

Community Service Award

Print Friendly

Library Trust Seeks Nominees for Community Service Award 

The Seekonk Library Trust is seeking nominees for the Sharon St. Hilaire Community Service Award. The Seekonk Library Trust created the award as a way to recognize long and distinguished service to the Town of Seekonk by a public employee or community volunteer.

The award is named for its first recipient, Sharon St. Hilaire, who served as Director of the Seekonk Public Library for thirty-four years. In addition to her library service, Ms. St. Hilaire played a prominent role in the development of the Seekonk Meadows, a recreation area that was created on the site of a closed landfill. Ms. St. Hilaire accepted the award at a ceremony in August 2011, which appropriately was held at a library sponsored concert on the Seekonk Meadows.

The Library Trust is an independent charitable organization that was created to raise funds for Seekonk Public Library programs and capital needs. The Board of Trustees for the Library Trust will review the nominations and announce its decision this summer. The nomination form may be obtained at the Seekonk Public Library or on the library’s website at http://www.seekonkpl.org/library-trust.html. The deadline for submitting nominations is Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The forms should be submitted to the attention of Peter Fuller at the Seekonk Public Library, 410 Newman Avenue in Seekonk, MA.

Nomination Form

Print Friendly

Sharon St. Hilaire Community Service Award

Nomination Form

Nominator Information:

Name______________________________________________________________

Address____________________________________________________________

Contact information___________________________________________________

Relationship to nominee________________________________________________

Nominee:
Name_______________________________________________________________

Address_____________________________________________________________

Seekonk affiliations & organizations:

 

Professional background & personal, family, or other information:

 

 

Please explain why this person is being nominated:

 

 

Deadline for submissions is May 15, 2013. This form should be mailed to: Peter Fuller, Seekonk Library 410 Newman Avenue Seekonk, MA 02771. This form can also be e-mailed to: library@seekonkpl.org