Dear Library Users,
We understand that the Town of Rehoboth faces a significant financial challenge. As your neighbors, we are reluctant to weigh-in on next week’s Proposition 2 ½ Override vote, but we are also seriously concerned about the possibility of the Blanding Public Library not receiving sufficient funds to retain state certification. As library users, I want you to know the ramifications if the Blanding Library is decertified.
The loss of state certification would mean that the Blanding Library would no longer receive the full benefits of membership in the Massachusetts Library System. This could have a devastating impact on the Blanding Library and adversely affect Seekonk Public Library and other libraries as well. The Blanding Library and Seekonk Public Library are both members of the SAILS library network as well as the Massachusetts Library System. Both of these organizations are only as strong as their individual members. It is vitally important that each member library contribute its fair share, and this starts with meeting the needs of your own community.
I have learned that some residents of Rehoboth believe that they may use other public libraries in the area if the Blanding Library should close or significantly reduce its services. This is not the case at the Seekonk Public Library. The policy of the Seekonk Public Library, as approved by the Board of Library Trustees, is to limit service for all residents of any community that does not have a certified public library of its own. Rehoboth residents will be welcome to visit the Seekonk Public Library if the Blanding Library is decertified, but they will not be able to borrow materials, use our computers or sign up for programs.
Some have commented that this policy does not reflect a “neighborly” attitude, but inter-library cooperation is based on the idea of reciprocity. Each member library is expected to provide a minimal level of library services and to make those services available to any resident of the Commonwealth. This is not possible when a library fails to meet minimum standards and is decertified. Communities that allow their libraries to become decertified are in effect telling their neighboring cities and towns that they don’t wish to meet their obligation to provide an important public service and are willing to transfer that burden to their neighbors. Such actions do not reflect a “neighborly” attitude.
My sincere hope is that Seekonk Public Library will be able to continue serving you in the coming year. This can only happen if the Blanding Library remains a strong, contributing member of the state-wide network. I urge you to support whatever measures will help secure sufficient funding for the Blanding Library to retain its state certification.
Thank you for considering my request, and best wishes.
Peter Fuller, Director
Seekonk Public LIbrary