Report of the Medway Public Library
The drastic, disproportionate cut to the Library budget in FY2007 (continued in FY08) caused the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to withdraw State certification from the Medway Public Library as of February 2007. This lost the Library over $17,000 in annual State Aid to Public Libraries, but more significantly it lost Medway residents the right to borrow from our neighboring libraries and the rest of the libraries in our region.*
There is some very good news for this year, however. The State Legislature approved a one-time grant of $250,000 specifically for the Medway Public Library to use between July 1 2007 and June 30 2008. The Library is using the grant to attend to deferred maintenance and badly needed repairs, purchase more materials, and restore some hours of service.
Our gratitude for this generosity
cannot be overstated. It represents an affirmation of the
importance of library service in providing educational resources to
all citizens, supporting the informed citizenry without which a
democracy cannot function, and, of course, providing inexpensive
recreation that improves the mind.
Prior to the grant, we were able to buy (using donations) just one-third of the materials a town our size should buy annually for its library. With the grant, we are buying a more adequate number of books, books on CD and other materials. We are updating parts of our reference and non-fiction collections that have become badly outdated during the past several years of tight finances, and are preparing to buy any additional books we'll need for the schools' summer reading lists.
The grant also enabled us to restore some hours of service, including Saturday hours to better serve residents who work 9-5 at some distance from town.
The grant-financed maintenance and repairs protect the investment the people of Medway made in the Library during our 1997-98 renovation/expansion project.
In providing funds for library operations that otherwise would have been funded by donations, bequests and Aurelia Tuchinsky's trust fund, the grant allows the Library to preserve its modest financial reserves as the Town determines what future allocations are affordable.
In addition, this year we are very grateful to have received via the Friends of the Library a bequest of $25,000 from Medway resident and longtime supporter Patricia Robertson. The Trustees wish that the money could be spent on providing special and extra services; however, in the current environment, it may well be needed to keep the lights on.
The Friends of the Library continues to be a huge asset, donating over $20,000 per year to the Library. Before the budget cuts, this funded enrichment programs at the Library, paying for a variety of museum passes and performances. Now, it pays for our materials and crucial operating costs not funded by the Town. Memberships, booksales and bequests allow the Friends to support the Library; please consider joining the Friends to help support us with your funds, ideas and energy. If nothing else, donate books and come shop at the booksale, a major fundraiser held by the Friends.
As was the case last year, volunteers have stepped up and made the continued operation of the Library possible. They have shelved books, organized fundraisers, run children's story hours, vacuumed, taken out the trash, and cleaned the toilets. A Library Trustee with over a decade of experience on the Board spent over 1000 hours in 2007 as a volunteer struggling to fill the gaping void due to the loss of our Library Director.
Our small but dedicated, knowledgeable, caring and hardworking staff continues to do an excellent job in a difficult environment. It is our greatest strength, adding tremendous value to the materials contained within our four walls by helping guide patrons to the information they need and the resources they want.
The biggest challenge facing the Library is regaining a position where it operates in a sustainable manner. It is difficult to overstate the precarious status of the Library as a public institution at this funding level. It would be sad indeed if the Commonwealth's generosity merely postponed the Library's demise by a year. With current levels of funding, we will close sometime in 2010.
To protect the town's substantial investment in the Library and to ensure that we meet residents' ongoing needs, the Library needs to employ a degreed professional Director. Further, to fulfill those needs and to provide the services residents expect, we must regain our State certification and thus our reciprocal membership in the commonwealth of information provided by the networked libraries of the State. The Board of Library Trustees hopes fervently that the voters of Medway will approve a budget allowing us to meet these goals.
Please visit the Library to browse the collection, use the computers, do research or just relax. Although our hours have been cut back, we are still open some mornings, some evenings and after school most days as we try to serve as many people as possible. Our website address is medwaylib.organd many of our services, including database access, renewing books, placing holds and much more, are available from home via the web.
Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Talk with our staff or email firstname.lastname@example.org share them us.
* The statewide library network is a reciprocal system that relies on each town doing its share; most libraries responding have cited the cost of taking up the slack while we are open so few hours (20/week instead of our expected 40) and are buying so few new items.
Medway Board of Library Trustees
Wendy E. Rowe, volunteer Acting Director