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Library Trustees Look Ahead To 2014-15 Budget

Following a report from the acting director of the C.H. Booth Library, Beryl Harrison, at the Tuesday evening, December 3, meeting of the Board of Trustees, the next two hours were focused primarily on a line by line dissection of the library budget, to be submitted to the town by December 6.

Ms Harrison noted that the fire alarms had been activated multiple times, and that Alarms by Precision had assessed the problem Monday, December 2. Board member Tom D’Agostino clarified that the alarm company had determined that a sensor set for only 135 degrees had set off the smoke alarm in the boiler room. A new smoke detector, with a higher temperature tolerance of 190 degrees, was installed, and it was expected that this would resolve the false alarm issue.

Ms Harrison reported that Iron Mountain, the information management company with which the library has been working on the Digital Condolence Archive related to 12/14, is anxious to have the project go public. A staff member and board member Mary Kelley are working on a statement for the website, said Ms Harrison, and the staff is more than halfway through scanning all of the items. “The state is ready to go [with the website] but nothing has been posted,” Ms Harrison said. “It is coming together, but slower than we thought,” she said, adding that it would be a challenge to complete the archival project by the anniversary of 12/14, and that the library is trying to keep the town in the loop about the project.

She encouraged board members to make a point of stopping by the library at some time on Sunday, December 15, in a show of support for staff. Some staff members are concerned about the Guns Save Lives Day promoted for that day, and Ms Harrison said that she would be contacting Newtown Police Chief Kehoe to remind him that the library is open on that day.

“Personally,” Ms Harrison said, “I don’t anticipate any problems.”

After discussion on several points of the budget, the board voted to pass the budget as discussed, with only minor changes. Those changes include an increase in the amount requested for maintenance, which Mr D’Agostino suggested, based on the knowledge of plumbing problems that must be addressed.

Board members also agreed to increase the income line item for annual fundraising, noting that better marketing and outreach could improve income generated through that campaign.

Overall, the library is requesting an increase of $147,000, including revisions discussed, for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The library budget is available for review as part of the master budget, as with other town departments.

Board member Peter Stern, who along with Michelle Rosenthal and Michael Talluto is on the Search Process Committee to determine how the board will pursue hiring a new library director, spoke briefly.

“We are expecting a consultant to talk to us in January,” he said, referring to previous months’ discussions on seeking input from a consultant on the best methods to seek a new director. He suggested it was time for the board to start thinking about who should serve on the actual search committee.

Board member Bob Geckle questioned what the charge would be of the consultant, and Mr Stern said that he was not clear on that, either, but understood that the board could pick and choose areas of discussion with the consultant based “on what we need.” The consultant would address the entire Board of Trustees, Mr Stern said in a later conversation, not just the three members of the Selection Process Committee.

The Selection Process Committee has also talked to Board of Education members, Mr Stern said, as suggested by other trustees members last month. “They are looking for the same criteria [in hiring a superintendent of schools] as we are [in hiring a director],” he said, and it was noted that the Board of Education uses consultant services to fine-tune the job and to do community outreach.

Mr Stern said that he would like to see search committee members assigned to the Library Director Search Committee by January 2014. At the November regular meeting of the Board of Trustees, it was suggested that the director search committee be made up of three current board members, two library staff members, one person from the community, and one person from the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library, and not include any of the three board members who had served on the search committee last year. 

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