You are hereNewton Branch Trustees Meeting Tuesday July 15 8:30am Main Library

Newton Branch Trustees Meeting Tuesday July 15 8:30am Main Library

By cpitts - Posted on 09 July 2008

There will be a meeting of the NFL Trustees Tuesday July 15 8:30am at the Main Library. We need to show support and put some heat on the trustees.

What I have learned in a nutshell: the trustees have been along for the ride and nobody has been questioning anything. Director Glick-Weil called all the shots and her agenda all along has been to close all the branches. We found a host of questionable items and budget errors which has aroused the interest of the Attorney General and the State Board. Bottom line; there is NO vision for the future which includes any branches.

Again, my fear is once they sever the link between the Main Library and the branches, there will be NO SUPPORT FOR ANY LIBRARY FUNCTIONS at any branches. I once thought the Waban Library would make a great creperie and jazz club and to heck with the books. But now I believe that most of us would be losing something important we never even knew we had. We MUST NOT let this happen.

Note Ald. Gentile's email at the bottom. Much of what has been found is in this editorial below - pardon the length.


Glick-Weil's Final Solution

With the shuttering of the last 4 remaining branch libraries, Kathy Glick-Weil's final solution is complete. Starting with her rise to director in 1991, Glick-Weil set out to close the branch libraries. Reasoning the branches were siphoning patrons and resources from the main library, she started by implementing part-time hours. This ensured that a generation or more would never experience the benefits of a sanctuary for studying, browsing books, magazines and newspapers, and a casual meeting place, all within their community, easily reached by foot or bicycle. Further, scheduling Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons also assured Newton students free on Tuesday afternoons would not benefit either. Statistically, patron and circulation numbers would be abysmal in comparison to the main library. Nancy Perlow, Glick-Weil's understudy, stays the course stating to the Alderman on May 8th, "The branches served a nice neighborhood purpose, but the main library provided more services and really didn’t compare in terms of impact." The plan was perfect; when the lights finally went out and the books were hauled away, who would object? Recent conversations with Trustees of the Newton Free Library (NFL) and Directors of Friends of the NFL reveal that both organizations, following Glick-Weil’s lead, have not considered supporting the branches.
The suffocation of all the branch libraries has taken 17 years. Going against the intent of various branch deeds, several were closed quickly. Around 1991, in spite of protests and petitions, the community accepted the limited hours as cost savings but in reality, the utilities remained on fulltime and the librarians were full time employees. Under the guise of financial hardship, regardless of the override outcome, the time was ripe for the final blow to the remaining four branches; hence the library budget of May 5th excluded the branches. Most of the populace found out about the Branch closings in the TAB a mere 6 days before the May 20th override vote. By June 6th, the BOA (Thanks Bill) had come up with a plan to shift moneys about to keep the branches functioning. However this option was thwarted at the 11th hour by four aldermen who thought a budget tweak would embarrass the city and the outgoing mayor. With investigations by the Attorney General and questions from the State Board, more likely the Trustees and the management of the NFL will provide the embarrassment:

  • Based upon the 2008 Library Budet and figures from a letter to the BOA of May 23, the $300,000 cost of the 4 branches appears to be off by close to $130,000. Several Alderman believe it to be off by $180,000
  • $5,288,274 is the total budget of the Library, $300,000 is less than 5%
  • With two raises within 5 months, new Director Nancy Perlow 's salary will be $103,476, higher than the Mayor’s $97,000. According to Mass Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) the Average pay for Directors in Massachusetts is $50-75,000
  • To fill the Assistant Director position vacated by Perlow, the library has chosen an uncertified IT person from circulation, who made apx $55,000 and will now receive $78,000 salary. According to MBLC the average starting pay of certified Asst. Director is 45,000
  • It is a violation of the Mass Board of Library Commissioners MGL standards for grants to pay for book use under the "Free Library" standards. Privatizing branches and having communities pay librarian salaries could cause the NFL to lose accreditation and $130,000 in annual grants
  • There is no practical transportation for people with disabilities to get from the villages currently served by the branches to the main library
  • 1866, Newton built its first Library. 1934 - 14 libraries. 2008 – 1 library
  • An American Library Association study found that when the economy goes down, library use goes up
  • According to Americans for Libraries Council, library constructions and renovations are on rise nationally since 2004
  • According to a study for Framingham, without the branches, Newton will have one of the lowest densities of libraries to patrons in the state
  • The American Association of Certified Appraisers states that appraisers determine whether a community has a local library when assessing property values

Perhaps we need to pause as a community and reevaluate our priorities and decide if it might be better to keep these libraries and reinvent what they do. Thomas Frey of The DaVinci Institute suggests we get creative and expand usage to include Podcasting stations, Blogger stations, Art studios, Video Archive recording, and Time Capsule rooms. He also thinks "books themselves will transition from a product to an experience.  As books change in form from simple “words on a page” to various digital manifestations of the information, future books will be reviewed and evaluated by the experience they create."  Regarding the library itself: "a culture-based library is one that taps into the spirit of the community, assessing priorities and providing resources to support the things deemed most important.  Modern day cultural centers include museums, theaters, parks, and educational institutions.  The library of the future could include all of these, but individual communities will be charged with developing an overall strategy that reflects the identity and personality of its own constituency."
Given the rising costs of gas and the desire to conserve energy, the trend nationwide is to decentralize and patronize businesses and community functions close to home which don't require transportation. So contrary to beliefs 17 years ago, if the branches were currently open 7 days providing a myriad of services, not only would patronage and circulation go up but interaction to the main library would increase, and thus support of the whole "tree" would increase. We are prepared to get involved and help open the doors but we want the city and the NFL to keep the branches functioning as libraries and we want a Director and Trustees that will be supportive and have the vision to see the benefits of maintaining branch libraries.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <>
Date: Wed, Jul 9, 2008 at 1:01 PM
Subject: Re: Library Update...not much to report
Dana, I am hopeful that we will be seeing a proposed amendment to the budget by the Mayor this Monday that will keep the branches open limited hours this year. If he does not propose an amendment Amy and I will, which if approved by 2\3's of the Board will require the money be added back. It is good to hear you are going to the Trustee's meeting. PLEASE BRING AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN. They need to understand how important the branches are, they still don't get it.  Lenny Gentile


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