You are hereLibrary Update June 13 08

Library Update June 13 08


By cpitts - Posted on 13 June 2008

The BOA meeting held Wednesday June 11th was attended by most of the Alderman and about 150 people. As could be expected, in a game of "Survivor," the Main library was pitted against the branches.

Various Trustees and patrons cited circulation and attendance statistics which dwarfed the branches. But people in favor of the branches expressed the importance of these community assets in heartfelt speeches.

Some of the reasons given were:

more accessible than the main branch
provided meeting places to the community
increased real estate values
decreased the carbon footprint because people, including youths and seniors, walk to them
pickup points for minuteman web delivery system.

It was suggested that one less spring snowplowing would save enough money to keep the branches open. As the representative for the WIS TF and community, I repeatedly asked the BOA to give us more time to come up with a creative solution. I understand the BOA has submitted to the mayor a budget which does just that.

In spite of the ominous topic, spirits were upbeat. Consequently it was a real surprise to me when after the meeting, Alderman Victoria Danberg pulled me aside and strongly suggested that Waban should seriously consider Parking Meters to provide a revenue stream to the city and without this, the BOA, in her estimation, would certainly not be favorable to our requests for the Branch. Alderman Susie Albright chimed in with "Quid Pro Quo." I thought the meters were to control a parking problem which Waban really doesn't seem to have. I also thought that moneys from meters were for "street maintenance" only and could not be applied to schools, libraries, or other non street considerations. While I see merit in raising money for the city, this just isn't the way to make this happen.

I have have received about 21 responses and informally polled neighbors. The quotes are below but in summary:

Everyone wants to preserve the structure as a community asset and almost all want to continue some library component.

Most of you were in favor of generating required revenue with some form of rental. Some creative thinking is exploring renting space to a cellular company by setting up a tower, disguised as a pine tree, behind the library. This could be win/win, generate funding and better phone service!

Many offered to volunteer real hours to help keep the branch open. I had a conversation with Alderman Ken Parker who alluded to a resolution which will allow for staffing by volunteers, something which has been previously blocked. I have not verified this yet.

Half of the people don't use the library at all. Almost all find the limited hours the main barrier and would be more likely to use the branch if it were open more and provided more programs.

Many of you who responded spoke of the value Susan Goldberg has provided as a knowledgeable and congenial resource.

There was some contention regarding usage of the structure for library or reading room purposes according to the original Deed which we are investigating however upon further examination by Attorney Galen Gilbert:

"I have studied the deed sent me and I do not think it will help you at all. The reversion clause is triggered by one event only, the failure to build a library within ten years of the conveyance. Since the library was built, the only condition of the deed has been met. “. . . to convey . . . upon the condition that within ten years . . . said real estate shall be dedicated . . . to public library purposes . . . and that if said Association shall fail to keep and perform said condition, then . . .” I think you can call off your search for the heirs of the trust.

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Quotes:
I will be willing to do whatever I can to help and support this effort to keep the branch open. I can commit some hours and will participate in any activities fund-raising or otherwise to enrich our space. My husband has another building support effort in mind that he is investigating right now. We will be there (the BOA meeting) on June 11.

We don't use the Waban library at all. -- I wouldn't be opposed to leasing out some (or all) of the space to a commercial enterprise so long as it were something that benefited the neighborhood.

Our Waban Branch Library is the village's primary public building. -- I would like to see -- more programs to be offered at our Waban Branch Library. Perhaps a Waban Improvement Society committee should be given the authority to create and implement a new volunteer run "open library" concept. In exchange for access to the library building for activities such as tutoring, visiting authors, children's programs, poetry readings, etc. a fee or donation would be expected.

I support keeping the food pantry at the Waban Branch Library.

We do not use the library.

While I had been an early supporter of a Brigham House approach, endless fundraising would be required. BH is now rolling out a Kaplan type tutoring program for middle school students and this might be a revenue generating program we should explore.

A financial "anchor" such as a preschool or appropriate white-knight business (SAT tutoring, etc) would be the best way to augment the overhead. The community could then use the library for it's purposes- Library, art shows, yoga, storytime, etc- without the big financial nut. Keep in mind that the Hyde center gets most of it's income because they rent the basketball courts to leagues and party's, to the tune of $75,000 a year. The Waban library doesn't have a $ producer like that and unless we want to get caught up in year-round, endless fundraising, we need the cash flow that an anchor can provide.

I am ashamed to say that we rarely use the Waban Branch. -- In addition, there isn't a great deal of children's programming at the Waban Branch, and when there is, it is extremely hard to register. -- Although I haven't kept abreast of this issue, I remember that there was some talk about reopening the Carr School, which is currently being used as the Newton Cultural Center. Several of the organizations that currently reside there have programming that might be suitable for the Waban Library space. Among the organizations are: WarmLines, Suzuki School of Music, Newton Philharmonic Orchestra, Arts in the Parks, etc. Preschool playgroups/music classes, music/orchestra rehearsals, meetings, etc. might be an interesting way of using the space --.

If volunteering turns out to be a way to keep the branch open, I think that some of our collective volunteer efforts should be aimed at increasing programming. This is what draws us to the main branch, and this is what would draw us to the Waban branch.

I visit the Waban library at least two times per week to look at the new releases and to pick up the books I have requested online. Although my daughter is not quite old enough to attend right now, we were looking forward to the story hour on Fridays. We really enjoy being able to walk to the library from our house.

My mom, who is 95 years old and lives independently in Newton Highlands, comes to the Waban branch library by MBTA. She would be devastated if it closed, since it is the only library in Newton accessible via T. Mom sits in the library and reads magazines occasionally, or takes out large print books, which Susan orders from the main library if they are not in the branch.

I have mixed feelings about it because I never go there. Between the library at Angier and the main library I feel like we are covered. I am in total support of keeping it a community building. If there are plans of a youth center or any other kind of Waban based building I would love to be involved. It would be a shame to let it go.

I don't know what the answer is but one morning and maybe one or two Saturdays per month would increase usage at least from our family.

I made the suggestion the other night that the space be leased to commercial interests with the understanding that part of the building would continue to be used as a library. The lease costs would cover the capital and operating costs for the total building as well as part time library labor costs. I would think that Citizens Bank would love to have a Waban branch and agree to this kind of plan.

In my opinion the space is much too big for a branch library considering that an excellent central library is no more than 10 minutes away. But, it could be used as a child's library and a drop off point for central library books. It makes absolutely no sense for such first class space to be so underutilized, particularly at a time when Newton's budget is under pressure. Another idea is to levy a fee for all Waban households with the proceeds used to keep the library open 5 days a week. We'll see if the residents REALLY want to pay for it. My wife uses the branch a great deal, primarily to pick up and drop off books.

I belong to the library book club that meets once a month. I also use the library to take out books because I read a lot and no longer want to spend money on books when the same books are available at the library. I am happy to help in any way that I can and give a few hours a week if the library needs volunteers.

I do use the Waban Branch library on occasion. I frequently order books or CDs through the Minuteman Library System to be delivered to the Waban branch where I pick them up. -- I am happy to sign up for some volunteer hours if that can be organized.

I use it often, probably go in once every two weeks and often take out four or five books. Whenever, I request a book, I always ask that it be sent to Waban.

I have my books sent to the Waban branch and drop off there as well. When I remember the hours, I’ll bring my kids by to browse the shelves.

My 16 month old son and I walk there at least twice a week and I never leave without 3-4 books! -- I grew up in a small town and I want my son to have the experience of having a librarian that knows his name and his favorite books. -- Susan is an asset to our community and I am willing to do ANYTHING to help keep our branch open!

I never use the branch library and always go to the main branch.

I have used the Waban Library very little over the years, -- the hours are not useful to people with young children, and I never quite figured out how the toddler reading group operated on Friday mornings since the library was closed at that time. -- I don't know the total size of the basement, but perhaps it could be shared with a paying tenant and the Waban Food Pantry. -- To increase visits to the library, establish a DVD collection. Even just a kids collection would be enough draw.

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