Trustee

Spring 2007

The Trustee communicates issues affecting libraries and library services. Once a library and systems join LTA, all their trustees automatically receive this quarterly publication published by LTA. To learn more about membership in LTA, Click Here.

From the Editor's Desk

Sam Patton, TRUSTEE Editor

Spring 2007 issue of Trustee

This issue marks several changes for NYSALB and the TRUSTEE.  President Norm Jacknis ends his third term on the Board this spring, and his final column is in this issue.  We will all miss him as a board member, and as an outstanding President.  He has been an excellent voice for library trustees at all levels.  And I especially have benefitted from his forwarding to me many interesting news items about library and related issues. 

And a special “Thank You” to all Trustees, Library and System Directors from NYSALB.  Membership in NYSALB is on track to reach an all time record high. A library’s success is greater when trustees are enthusiastic and active. NYSALB strives to educate trustees to best fulfill their responsibilities.

And I’d like to add a “Thank You” to two of our NYSALB trustees who have had to leave our board.  Nancy Simaitis of Waverly served on many committees, including Education, Nominating and Velma Moore Award, over more than seven years, and Bob Taylor of Jamestown served about four years and was a  member of the Velma Moore Award committee.  We will miss them both, and wish them well.

Trustees for NYSALB will be elected at the annual meeting, held at the Trustee Institute in Queens May 4th and 5th.  The candidates are: Patricia N. Dohrenwend, 1st Term, Westchester Public Library System;  Joan Hurley, 3rd Term, Chemung County Public Library District/Southern Tier Library System;  myself, Samuel Patton, 3rd Term, East Fishkill Community Library/ Mid-Hudson Library System; Robert Presutti, 2nd Term, Lewiston Public Library/Nioga Library System; and George Stamatiades, 2nd Term, Queens Borough Public Library.

Second,  we have a new Governor, and many proposed changes in the way the State operates.  At this writing,the Legislature has included an increase in Library Aid in the recently passed 2007-08 State Budget - $5 million in additional aid. This is good news for us all.

Closer to home, Assemblywoman Eddington has been promoted to Vice Chair of the Majority Steering Committee, and Speaker Silver has named Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Westchester as the new Chair of the Assembly Libraries Committee. We thank Ms. Eddington for her work, and welcome Ms. Paulin.  We hope to carry articles from her in future issues.

Many libraries, including my home library, have become special district libraries or other entities which can levy a tax directly for library support.  In most cases where the vote is in favor, the process works smoothly, but there can be snags.  For example, here is a story excerpted from the  March 31, 2007, Journal News.

On Nov. 7, voters in Philipstown voted on a proposition  to increase the operating budget of their Julia L. Butterfield Memorial Library by $151,000 to $276,000. By a 1,086-973 tally, voters said “Yes.”

Now Town officials have decided that it’s too much. Through the budget for the town, which collects taxes and distributes revenue, they’re only going to give the library $125,000 this year, the same amount allotted the library the past two years.

The reason Philipstown officials gave? Voters were “bamboozled’’ into voting for the increase - which, by the way, the officials say is too much. Never mind that almost 53 percent of the November voters thought otherwise. (Note to library staff: Need to beef up the “government” section, particularly the part on democracy . . . one person-one vote . . . majority wins, etc.)

It shouldn’t have come to this, but on March 19, the library’s board asked a state Supreme Court justice to direct the Town Board to release the voter-approved funding. Butterfield is the smallest library in Putnam, founded in 1927 by the estate of local philanthropist Julia L. Butterfield, whose money also funded the now-shuttered Butterfield Hospital in Cold Spring. Usage at the library has quadrupled in the last five years, from nearly 2,900 in 2000 to 7,800 in 2006. Over the same period, cardholders have increased from 2,583 to 4,052, and items circulated are up from 8,024 to 38,000. But what could all those users know?

Library officials estimated that the increase requested of voters would cost roughly 17 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, translating into a $16 annual increase for the average property owner - from the current average of $13 to $29.

It is too bad that that such a small sum should lead to this situation, where one governmental unit has to go to court to get another entity to do what the laws require.

Many libraries not only use volunteers, but depend on them for better serving their patrons.  They can fill many needs, from special programming to just doing some work that frees up professional staff to work more with patrons.  Here is an adaptation from a conference in Minnesota on how to deal with volunteers for a special project.  I found it in a note from the Mid-Hudson Library System in Dutchess County, but these ideas are valuable in any library, whether you use volunteers or a Friends Group or both, and whether you have volunteers for a special project, or on an ongoing basis.
Attendees at the Minnesota Library Association Conference learned about volunteers in “Volunteers 101, Coordinating Volunteers on a Shoestring,” a  session with  the Friends and volunteer Services Manager, Hennepin County Library, and the Assistant Director and Volunteer Coordinator, The Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library.


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