Input sought

Schenectady County Public Library seeks ideas for lean budget

Public comment set for Monday

Friday, April 12, 2013
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Input sought

An addition to the main branch of the Schenectady County Public Library in Schenectady was opened in June 2012.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
An addition to the main branch of the Schenectady County Public Library in Schenectady was opened in June 2012.

— The Schenectady County Public Library wants to hear from you, and soon.

A community conversation is set for Monday at 7 p.m. inside the McChesney Room at the main branch at 99 Clinton St., Schenectady, to determine what types of programming the community would like to see under a restructured library system.

Library officials have a May 1 deadline to come up with a plan to operate under new budget cuts. But before the plan is set, officials want community input. The day also happens to be the kickoff to National Library Week, an annual event whose theme this year is “Communities matter @ your library.”

The Schenectady County Public Library’s board of trustees was told by the county last October to restructure, after the Legislature approved about $521,000 in cuts for this year. The largest cut was to funding for the library’s hourly workers, but would also affect books, professional services and employee benefits.

“While this process was initiated as a result of the $521,000 budget cut last fall, it has made the library look at what it does now and what it will need to do for the future,” read a news release announcing Monday’s meeting. “Part of this restructuring process will be a stronger emphasis on literacy in all its forms: reading, writing, digital and financial, and an emphasis on the needs of youth and what programming the library will need to provide to help meet those needs.”

The plan will also look at the library’s programs and services, how to use new technologies, and how to organize its 10 branches to meet the needs of their individual communities.

Last fall, the board conducted a month-long survey to gather public input on improvements residents would like to see at their local branches. Library Director Karen Bradley said its restructuring work group is in the midst of pulling together information for the board to make recommendations to County Manager Kathleen Rooney by May 1.

“Our work group will be gathering that input at the [Monday meeting] with the goal of working like crazy over the next week and a half to have it ready for the April 25 board of trustees meeting,” she wrote in an email last week.

Bradley was appointed director last fall after longtime director Andy Kulmatiski stepped down.

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April 13, 2013
8:52 a.m.
ajdjr73 says...

This library system is one of the few library systems I have ever used that does not have a drive up book return. Also, in the Niskayuna branch, the drop boxes are locked during the day forcing one to park and enter the library. This may not be convenient for people with children, pets, etc. It is very inconvenient to say the least. The Whitney Book Store operated by the Friends is a gem, but also very inconvenient to park. Why not work with the city and reserve a couple of spaces for Whitney? Instead, the one parking space that does exist is designated as "handicap". It seems the library is setting up more barriers instead of removing barriers.

I do not understand why the library system cannot integrate with Schenectady County Community College's library. I understand there may be an information technology issue involved, but what about a manual process for cardholders to use the college library or return library books at the college? After all, all the money funding these facilities comes out of the same pocket. Maybe some money can be transferred from the right pocket to the left pocket, it still comes out of the same pair of pants.

April 15, 2013
8:46 a.m.
nainslie says...

I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book. - Groucho Marx

I have noticed over the many years I have used the library in Schenectady that books are increasingly misplaced on shelves, lost, or stolen, even when listed as being on the shelf. I assume that reduced staff is the reason. I also assume that fewer books, etc. are being purchased. I am not sure where more budget cuts can be made which will not impact the quality of services greatly.

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