Library Releases Long-range Plan

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As of July 1, the Seekonk Public Library will be operating under the guidance of a new long-range plan. The plan is the result of a year-long effort by the Board of Library Trustees, the library staff and the Strategic Planning Committee.  The new long-range plan details how the library will address the growing and changing demand for library services through June 30, 2017. The plan establishes goals for how the library will provide services, use technology, reach out to the community, and develop its resources.  The plan also contains a series of strategic objectives that will be met to attain each of these goals.  Follow this link to read the entire planWe would greatly appreciate receiving your thoughts and questions about the long-range plan. Just click on the Feedback tab on the left-hand side of the screen to leave a message. 

The completion of the long-range plan is a significant accomplishment for the library.  A well thought out, long-range plan that is created with input from the community, is essential to the success of the library.  The long-range plan will guide both the future development of the library and its day-to-day operations.  Every significant decision made at the library in the next four years will be related to strategic objectives in the plan. All of the activities and services that occur at the library will be expected to move the library toward achievement of specific outcomes or levels of output cited in the plan. How well the library serves you in the coming years will depend on how well we use this important tool.  

The vision of what constitutes a successful public library is unique to each community. The vision must be the product of collaboration between those being served and those providing the service.   For this long-range planning process, the library recruited a committee to represent the broad spectrum of town residents as well as key constituent groups among library users.   Members of the committee were 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, and Susan Tusino.  The committee provided invaluable help with identifying the needs and priorities of our community. This input has already started to shape the library services that the people of Seekonk are receiving. The participation of these public-spirited individuals was greatly appreciated.


Internet Replacing Libraries (?)

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An occasionally heard statement that baffles me is that we no longer need public libraries.  I have heard and seen this comment in print for about twenty-five years now.  The proponents of the “imminent demise of libraries” theory are often self-identified technology futurists. Their usual rationale is that everything is available on the internet and therefore, all of our information needs can be met there.  (They probably read this on the internet, and as we all know from the TV commercial, “you can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true.”)

I suspect that if this were true then there would be evidence of a decline in the use of libraries, but the exact opposite is true.  Public library use has grown steadily both here in Seekonk and across the nation.  The irony is that their argument makes sense only if you start from an old-fashioned notion that public libraries exist primarily to provide information in a physical form such as a book, journal or magazine. Besides those materials however, your public library also offers a wide array of services, both in person and via the internet.  Many of them, such as classes, programs, volunteer opportunities and free entertainment like concerts and movies are featured elsewhere in this newsletter.  In addition, the library provides high speed access to the internet and offers training in the use and adoption of continually evolving technology.  The futurists seldom mention these services.

I suspect that these services go unrecognized because these people have not visited a public library recently. Their notion of public library service is, ironically, trapped in the past.  Perhaps the next time you hear someone tell you that you don’t need your public library, you can politely inquire about the last time the speaker visited a library.  And if they haven’t, please extend our invitation to come and find out what is really being offered.


Thanks for your support

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I want to thank the voters who attended Town Meeting on June 10th, and especially those of you who responded to my call for support. The voters approved a town budget that included a 2.4% increase in the library budget for fiscal year 2014. Voters also approved a warrant article that included funds to fix leaks and other drainage issues at the library. Once again the people of Seekonk have expressed their desire to have quality public library service.  We at the library pledge to work to the best of our ability to provide you with the best value for every tax dollar invested.

I wish to also thank the citizens who spend hours reviewing budgets, studying the needs of the community, and deliberating over difficult choices.  These dedicated individuals serve on elected boards such as the Board of Library Trustees and Board of Selectmen as well as appointed committees such as the Finance Committee and Capital Improvements Committee. They represent you and help keep us accountable to you.  Job well done!

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