A new library thread

Because the old one’s getting crowded, and it’s two pages ago.

I’ll start by taking out Ann M.’s comments and bringing them forward:

I sat on the Library Trustees for a number of years and all these issues have been in discussion for many, many years. There’s a lot more to the “closing” equation than meets the eye including level of service required by the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners and how the libraries are budgeted (of which much funding does come from the state). The Grafton Public Library Trustees are guided by rules in part set by the state and quite a bit of their funding is derived from formulas outside the regular town budgeting process – it’s all connected to level of service and how to meet the needs of the total town population. Grafton has recently met a population threshold which requires an increased level of service (which, according to the state, is much more than books). So the GPL Trustees struggle every year with balancing the needs of the entire town population against the state’s requirements for level of service in order to receive state funding and resources. Regardless of the outcome of the Nelson Park & Memorial Library debate, the upcoming years for our library will be very challenging. And for the record, my argument was then (as a Trustee) as it is now – let’s evaluate and plan for a balanced and quality level of service so that we don’t jeopardize state funding – and then figure out how to physically house the services required by the state and desired by our residents.

As for ADA compliance – there’s lots of misinformation in this blog. My suggestion to all folks interested in this topic is to directly contact the Building Inspector, Bob Berger (bergerr@town.grafton.ma.us) (note from Jenn: I corrected the email) who is also the Town’s ADA compliance officer. ADA compliance is very complicated not just in terms of the letter of the law but the state’s requirements for enforcement.

As for the Nelson Park and Memorial Library – you might be interested to read a little history produced by the Nelson Trustees back in 1963. It’s posted at the Nelson Trustees web page on the Town web site: http://www.town.grafton.ma.us/Public_Documents/GraftonMA_Committees/Library%20Trustees/trusteesnelson/nelsontrusteesindex. I had this in my records from my days as past GPL Trustee. This is a public document and is available upon request at the Municipal Center.

Thanks for the info, Ann!

Popping in on Selectmen

“Selectmen’s meetings are the best thing I direct all week.”

Bill at selectmen

That’s Bill Robidoux, who I’ll be getting back to a little later today (foreshadowing), masterminding the coverage of last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting. There are little cameras set up in the ceiling all over the room and Bill can spend the entire meeting jockeying between cameras, running closeups and cutaways and controlling what viewers see at home all without even leaving his chair. That’s cool.

It was technology that physically brought me to selectmen last night. We’re switching cable providers this week, which bringing my usual Wednesday morning ritual of sharing breakfast with the DVR’d selectmen to a close until roughly April. I probably could have blown it off, because there wasn’t a lot of action. No shoe throwing, no pontificating, no bickering beyond a light banter — sheesh, what kind of politicians do we elect in this town?

But y’all will be happy to know that Timothy McInerney now holds the title of Acting Town Administrator rather than Acting Assistant Town Administrator, a change of title necessitated by the turn of the year that also brought a close to former TA Natalie Lashmit’s contract (bye Natalie, we’ll always have Marlborough). The appointment runs for the next three months while the town seeks a replacement; selectmen have the option of extending the appointment for an additional three months should a decision not be reached by April.There was a tiny bit of library discussion. McInerney noted the change in the Nelson Library’s status and said the hours would be Tuesday and Thursday, 1-8 p.m., Saturday 12-2 p.m.

There was a presentation on the Blackstone River Bikeway, which I’ll hold off on talking about until I’m emailed the maps that show the Grafton segment, which were kind of interesting.

Really, the biggest impressions of the night for me was meeting Mary Ann in person (you look nothing like your identicon!) and the overwhelming minty green of the conference room.  It’s kind of like Green Monster green mixed with toothpaste and I’m told it’s a sacred cow because it’s “Grafton green.”

But it isn’t. Grafton green is the dark green on the wall behind the selectmen. This green is probably paint left over from Grafton State Hospital’s heyday (maybe it was stored in the stone tower?).

And, finally, today’s nightmare moment: we lost Internet. We lost Internet. I was in the middle of this post, went to save it, and Word Press vanished.

Sheesh, bad enough that school was canceled for the day (when we will have a full week of school again?), bad enough that I’m fighting for computer time with my working-from-home husband, but throw inability to access my blog into the mix? Kick me, why don’t you?

Breaking: Nelson Library to remain open until June 30

Again, bringing something out of comments for better play, because there’s some actual news value in it. Thanks for keeping us informed, Cathy!

I had a meeting yesterday afternoon with the Town Administrator (Interim) and Dana Wilson Chairman of the Grafton Library Trustees (not to be confused with the Nelson Library Trustees)
On behalf of the Friends of Nelson Library a proposal was presented last week to the TA and it was discussed yesterday.  It was decided that Nelson Library can remain open until June 30th – it will be run totally by volunteers – it was also agreed that we could keep the duplicate books to help with out running the Library – There will be a meeting of the Friends of the Nelson Library tomorrow evening in the Meeting room of the Library to work out our schedule and staffing.
I can only hope that we will keep the duplicate books as they might all disappear to the Center Library.
We will also be looking for gently used books not really old books to help stock our shelves.
Anyone having donations can email me at cathyfenton@verizon.net and arrangements will be made to receive your donations.
With the economy the way it has become and the future doesn’t look to bright, it has been noted on the News and in the Newspapers that people will begin to utilize our Libraries more than ever.  Hopefully we will be able to convince those in charge to help us keep the branch open.
I also hope that the South Grafton People will be able to do the same although they do come under the control of the Center Library.
It was not our intent to cause the Town problems but no one was listening to our plite.
It is time that ADA issue has been addressed and hopefully in a positive way.
Thank you all for your responses

Need to clear up one issue – our Trust monies has been invested along with the Towns monies – the town gives the Nelson Library a small budget of 38,000.00 which maintaines the building and the park and playground – our employees work part time so there are no benefits – the janitor works 9 hours a week and our three grounds keepers hours vary in the early spring to late fall they could work as much as 30 – 40 hours a month – however during the winter they sometimes have no hours at all – only damage cleanup weather permitting.

Thank you all and I will keep you posted

Cathy Fenton
Nelson Library Trustee

Library branches now closed

This came in as a comment on an old post from Cathy Fenton; I’m bringing it out here for better play.

Closing the North & South Grafton Branches – the powers to be have had their say and the branches are closing as of 12/31/08.
As a Trustee of Nelson Library I would like to make the public aware of a few points of interest
The only monies that comes out of the Center Library Budget for Nelson Library is salaries for the librarians and the cost of books. the library is only open 12 to 16 hours per week. We have been on the short list for new books, as many have been told that the books are unavailable at the North Grafton Branch.
The Nelson Library Budget which is roughly 38,000.00 per yer pays for the building expenses – lights heat air etc, maintenance mans salary and also pays for the maintenance of the grounds and parks of the Nelson Library Property. There are three part time retired gentlemen who maintain these grounds which have never looked better then they do now.
The Friends of Nelson Library now have approximately 12 volunteers who will keep the library open if allowed – we are trying to work something out with the Town Administrator and the “Center Library Trustees” But we need everyones help – so Michael stop shaving
Closing the Nelson Library now restricts people with disabilities from going to the Library either for some social contact or to read and check out books – ah but wait – the Center Library now has a program where they will deliver books to the “shutins” – are they using the librarians or the temps to perform this service when they could be used for what they were hired for to keep the North and South Branches open.
So attention ADA – Grafton does not have a library building which is open that can comply with some of the ADA requirements (Nelson is the most ADA compliant of the three Libraries)
The bottom line is the Center Library Trustees want a NEW Library Building – they have tried for YEARS to no avail – even tried to purchase or get the okay to purchase hazardeous contaminated land to either expand or build new -so now lets close the branches which have served the town well and – what did they say at the Selectmens meeting – the closing of the branches will put an added burden on the Center so does that mean hire more staff – and oh yes Hilding wants a bigger office and now a meeting room. Where is that money coming from – Hilding better start lifting weights to carry all those who are unable to get up the stairs to use the Center Library – how else will they get into the building?

One Grafton library

It was a  surprise to me, when we first started researching Grafton, to discover the town had not one, not two, but three public libraries. The town really didn’t seem big enough to justify three separate buildings, but I figured that maybe Grafton was just a highly literate town, dedicated to the printed word.

Growing up, I practically lived at the Bellingham Library, a tiny brick building that was haunted by a ghost with a sense of humor — you could always find a cold spot lingering around the research room at the books marked with the Dewey Decimal signifier of 130. Norma, one of the librarians, introduced me to books and authors that remain my favorites to this day. Bellingham eventually outgrew its little brick building and built a lovely new library near the high school; it doesn’t have a helpful ghost, but my daughter now loves to visit there with her grandmother to read in the bright children’s room.

We happily explored the three libraries in Grafton after moving here but were still puzzled as to why there were three of them. The children’s room in the main library, near the Common, seemed cramped, especially after our years with the Northborough Library. Nelson was a newer facility, but its hours never quite seemed to jibe with ours. South Grafton, in size, reminded me of my childhood library, but both times we dropped by, we ended up stopping back at the main library for a better selection.

Anyway, this is all roundabout, it came as no surprise to hear that the Library Trustees have decided to close both Nelson and South Grafton as of Jan. 1, 2009. The town’s going to be hard-pressed to level-fund its budget and three buildings, with the cost of heating, lighting, staffing and stocking them, seem to be a luxury.

Of course, the problem is, none of the buildings are the perfect stand-alone library. The main branch isn’t handicapped accessible and the parking lot is tiny; I don’t see much room for expansion there. There’s also a letter in this week’s Grafton News that notes that Nelson is completely funded, save for its librarians, by a trust fund — so what ends up happening to the trust fund?