Funds for Library Repairs on Town Meeting Warrant

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Your library needs your support at the Financial Town Meeting on Monday, June 10. The Municipal Capital Improvements Committee is recommending that $161,300 be appropriated from the Municipal Capital Stabilization Fund for the repair and renovation of roof drainage at the library. The funding for the library is one of several capital expenditures contained in Article 6 of the warrant. Since this large amount of money is to be expended for what on paper seems like a vague purpose, I thought some background information would be helpful.

The library’s roof drainage problem is serious. Water is penetrating into the building. Walls and ceiling tiles have been damaged. Thankfully, only a few items in the library’s collection have been damaged. This is the damage that we can see, however. There may be structural damage or mold growing behind the walls. If left unchecked, these problems will require expensive remediation in the future.

How is water getting into the building? I am pleased to write that it is not coming through the roof or gutters which were replaced in 2008. The roof has a twenty year warranty and the manufacturer has promptly sent out representatives whenever we have asked. The water is coming from leaks in the downspouts that carry the water from the roof and into the ground. Downspouts? If your home is like mine, the gutters and downspouts are attached to the outside of the house. But at the library, the gutters and downspouts are built into the exterior walls. While some might say that this design feature contributes to the clean modern lines of the building, it is also a serious design flaw. I know that this is difficult to envision, so I have included some photographs.

When the inevitable cycle of freezing, thawing, and re-freezing occurs each winter, ice will block-up the downspouts and water is forced back up into the building. The Public Works Department had applied a temporary fix by installing electrical heating cables. This system did eliminate th e ice blockage most of the time, but the library has lost electrical power on several occasions in the past two years. Significant water damage resulted each time the power went out.

The permanent solution is not easy or inexpensive. It will require changes in the library roof and opening up the exterior walls. This accounts for a large part of the cost. What to do with the water once it reaches the ground is another problem. The current drainage system allows water to collect against the foundation of the building. Over time, this led to the erosion of the building’s underpinnings and has caused the uneven settling of the building. This created cracks in the walls and warped some windows and doors. A significant part of the cost of the project is addressing the groundwater drainage.
I hope that you will support the library at the Financial Town Meeting on Monday, June 10. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like additional information.

Downspouts at the Rear of the Library Builiding

Downspouts at the rear of the library.

The 'scuppers' allow excess water to flow off the roof. The gutters are built into the wall below the openings.

The ‘scuppers’ allow excess water to flow off the roof. The gutters are built into the wall below the openings.

Downspout inside the wall

Downspout inside the wall.

Downspout exiting on the outside of the building.

Downspout exiting on the outside of the building.

Damaged caused by ice build-up.

Damaged caused by ice build-up.

Every Child Ready to Read!

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A few weeks ago Sharon and Mary Ellen from the Youth Services Department attended an all-day workshop (Star Power: Sing Talk and Read, Play On and Write for Easier Reading) at Norton Public Library on early literacy and how to help your child get ready to read using simple, every-day activities. From the time they are infants, children learn language and other important skills that will help them learn to read.  Developing early literacy skills makes it easier for children to read once they begin school.  “Every Child Ready to Read,” a project of the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association, divisions of the American Library Association, addresses these specific skills and assists parents in teaching their children.

It’s never too early or too late to help your child develop language and other early literacy skills. Here are five of the best ways for children to get ready to read: Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing and Playing! These activities are easy to do with children of all ages.  You and your child can enjoy them throughout the day—at home, in the car, or anywhere you and your child spend time together.

Why are parents so important in helping children get ready to read? YOU have been your child’s teacher from the day he or she was born. You know more about your child than anyone else. You are in the best position to help your child get ready to read because:

–Young children have short attention spans. You can do activities for short bits of time throughout the day.

–You know your children best and you can help them learn in ways and at times that are easiest for them.

–Parents are tremendous role models—if your children see that you think reading is important and enjoy it, they will follow your lead.

–Children learn best by doing and they love doing things with YOU!

In the next months, Seekonk Library will be working to initiate the Every Child Ready to Read program with the cooperation of PACE/CCW, Families and Communities Engaging (F.A.C.E.) and grant funding from the Coordinated Family & Community Engagement Grant.  We’re hoping to conduct a parental workshop during the winter of 2014 and follow-up with 4 parent-child workshops.  Stay tuned!


Newsletter, April 2013

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Although the earth and sun may have already aligned astronomically, New Englanders know that spring really doesn’t start until sometime this month. April is a time of new beginnings. We at the library are always ready to help you plan and launch your springtime projects and adventures. If you are working on your garden or landscaping, for example, the library offers a wealth of materials to help you. Spring sports – baseball, softball, golf, fishing, and lacrosse – have started. Players of all skill levels (as well as coaches) can find informative instructional videos and books at the library. So whatever your project or interest, consider starting by visiting the library or its website.

Although I am sure students have not forgotten, some parents, grandparents and other caregivers may need a reminder that school vacation week starts April 15. If you are looking for fun family activities, visit the library’s events calendar. How about a daytrip? You can visit museums, aquariums and historic sites around New England for free or at reduced prices by using one of the library’s museum passes.

There are some new beginnings at the library as well. The SAILS network has launched a new on-line catalog and a new, simpler way to download e-books. We will be training the library staff in how to use these new tools as well as how to help you use them effectively. The training will take place during the morning of Friday, April 12.  On that day, the library will open to the public at 12:30 pm rather than 10:00 am.

If you have visited our web site recently, you may have also noticed that we gave it a makeover. There are still some tweaks that need to be done, but we hope that you find it clearer and easier to use. One of the features that I particularly like is the feedback tab, which you’ll find on the left-hand side of the screen. You can click on the feedback tab to send us a comment, suggestion or question, or email me directly. Please use it to help us serve you better.


Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2012

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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!

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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 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?

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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, 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 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

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

Internet access and filtering.

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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 .