NG Library Trustees, Friends of the Library and librarians discuss library use, new cards and future of the basement

|Noreen Williams|

Tim Terranova began the April 12th meeting since the chair, CeCe Sullivan Rohrbach, was unable to attend.

Librarian’s report
Lee Shaw reported that the new library cards with barcodes are in and being issued as people come in to the library. The cost was $733.96 (from the gift fund) and they are supplied to patrons free. They have applied to join the Mills consortium (for which the barcodes are required) and are on a waiting list. Lee raised the issue of Pownal and Durham residents using the library without charge. These issues were discussed under New Business.

Lee and Emily Martin (assistant librarian) report there has been no issue with the capacity or time limits at the library. Things are going well and 439 books have been lent out since the lobby service opened. Lease books will arrive this month and they expect a strong positive response. Story time on Saturdays had 7 attendees last time and the book discussion has begun with a slow start but they expect improvements. Emily has begun discussions with the elementary schools about a summer reading collaboration.

The financial statement was not available but Lee indicates they are on track for spending. The Board let Lee know that is normally part of the meeting reports so he can be prepared to discuss it next meeting.

Friends Report
Carol Gillis reported that the Friends have been in the basement and have begun to sort books in preparation for a book sale in the future. There was discussion with Deborah Chandler, who organizes the book sales, about the number of people allowed in the basement due to Covid restrictions. Lee indicate that the Town Manager suggested a 4 person limit, while the Friends would like a higher limit since they nearly all fully vaccinated, mask, and can socially distance at higher numbers in that space. This is still under discussion with the Town.

Lee indicated that book donations are currently being taken.

The Friends Bylaws will be addressed at the annual meeting in May. Kathleen Potter, President of the Friends, is preparing a 501c3 application for non-profit status for the Friends and speaking with lawyers about the process.

Old business
The budget was on the agenda but was not discussed in detail.  

New Business
Tim reminded the group that Board of Trustee terms for Rob Cotiaux and CeCe Sullivan Rohrbach are up this June and hoped they would renew with the Board. Tim asked about listing Katherine Morris, the Youth trustee, listing Colleen Strickler’s term, and changing where the Board is currently listed on the website. Sharleen Myers (the acting town manager) will update the website.

Lee raised several issues about library cards.  Lee and Emily raised a question about library loans for unaccompanied children without cards and asked for a written policy to be established.  Gray residents currently have free access to our library (and there is a reciprocal arrangement which allows NG residents to use the Gray library). Pownal and Durham do not have their own library and currently 106 of their residents use the NG library free of charge. Other non-residents pay a fee. Lee would like to ask a modest fee from Pownal and Durham for this use and the Board directed Lee to speak with the town manager to approach these towns. Trustee Collen Strickler suggested that this might enhance use from the other towns by increasing awareness. Finally, Lee suggested a $2 charge for replacement of lost cards to cover cost. Lee and Emily will draft written policies to present to the Board.

In what became a lengthy discussion, Lee says the Town is asking them to look at space use in the basement for other future use. The front room is currently used by the Friends for children’s books and the back room is used for other books for the book sale. Lee proposed that the Friends consolidate the sale books into the back room and empty the front room. Lee also suggested that the number of books stored be decreased since it looked like more than one year of donations (and perhaps decrease donations accepted). Carol and Deborah clarified that the books were regularly weeded out and donated elsewhere if not sold. Lee also proposed that the book sale be held outside rather than in the basement and only on a single day (October 1). Currently there are two book sales. One is in October (2 day) and the second is in February (1 day). Lee also offered to get help to get the books outside for the sale.

Brenda Fox-Howard (interim town manager) has told Lee the Town wants the front room cleaned out and would like to rent the space for non-Library meetings. Lee indicated he would like to use that front room for programming although no specific programming was proposed. Carol and Deborah reminded the Trustees that the State Fire Marshall has only approved the basement for limited use for the one Friday (First Dibs for Kids) and two Saturdays of the book sale. The Fire Marshall is not concerned with the Friends use for book sorting as they are very familiar with the exits and other fire safety issues. However, other use would likely require sprinklers and other costly upgrades. Considerable discussion ensued over the current use of space by Friends and Library.

Trustees Paul Morin and Rob Cotiaux were concerned that this was not first brought to the Trustees and wanted specific information on how this other use of the space would be beneficial to the library before asking the Friends to change current use. Tim suggested that there should be a written proposal submitted to the Trustees and shared with the Friends. Rob suggested that Lee meet with the Friends to come up with an amicable solution. The Board decided that this should be a special workshop on the subject and then a discussion at the next Trustee meeting in June. Lee is going to write a draft proposal for basement use and changes to the book sale to share with the Trustees and Friends.

Rob asked about the procedure to use the library gazebo to start up his 4H group again. Sharlene directed him to a form to complete.

Lee reported that the library had received a $2,500 discretionary gift and wanted to receive permission to spend it. The Board asked that he come up with a plan for its use for the June meeting and Tim suggested that a portion should go to the library endowment.

There was a brief discussion of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Library Trustees and the Friends of the Library. Further discussion was tabled awaiting the Friends review of their Bylaws and 5013C application which might alter the MOU. 

Next meeting: 6/14/21