Friday, February 19, 2010

TELL YOUR STORY; MAKE IT PERSONAL – Library Advocacy at Pelham

“Tell your story and make it personal." You can email or send a note, but let your legislators know that you support the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners’ Legislative agenda to restore state funding for libraries and Regional Library Systems. That was the ‘take away’ from Senator Rosenberg’s library legislative breakfast which was held Friday morning (2/19/2010) at the Pelham Public Library.

More than 70 people attended the Pelham breakfast including library users, students from the Pelham school, Pelham library volunteers, members of the Pelham Select Board, trustees from Pelham as well as area libraries, librarians, Friends of WMRLS, Senator Rosenberg, Representatives Kocot, Kulik, Scibak and Story.

Library Director Adam Novitt, after welcoming the group, described how libraries save communities money by providing resources that help the elderly stay in their homes and give kids activity options that help them stay out of trouble. Pelham’s Library Teas are a case in point. When the Pelham Library began to host teas as a way to offer the community a gathering event as well as a program, staff, trustees and volunteers decided that they should use dishes that did not add to the landfill. They acquired china, but the hot water was so far away and expensive, they washed the cups in cold water for years until they could find a practical, economical solution. In spite of the benefits of libraries, these are examples of the compromises that occur in libraries on a daily basis.

Linda Wentworth (Leverett) spoke of the Friends of WMRLS and the fundraising they have achieved to support Regional services. Pelham Library Trustee Jonathan Woodridge and Select Board Member Jim Huber shared stories of their libraries and concerns for funding. Jan Resnick (WMRLS) explained the probable impact of a 29% budget cut for State funded Regional Library Systems resulting in merging the six Regional Library Systems into one and her concern for the special library services needed in the Western Region. C/W MARS, the area’s largest automated library network, also receives funds from the State budget. Dodie Gaudet reminded the audience that when those funds are reduced, the difference must be made up by fees paid by member libraries.

In the Library Voices portion of the program, Pelham patron Mary Jo Maffei described her use of the library for Internet access since her home doesn’t have any and as an excellent alternate workspace. Greenfield’s Public Library has taken several budget cuts in the past year. Director Sharon Sharry gave examples of the impact of those cuts while the library is experiencing dramatic increases in community needs and use. Sixth graders Heather Eliot and Fran Lisa Rowell and their teacher Cathy Neale spoke to the value of the shared school/public library in Pelham and how much library services have improved and how valuable they are.

This year, at the suggestion of our legislators, the library legislative breakfasts shifted from March to February. The timing of this one was perfect. Senator Rosenberg is taking his funding priorities to Senate Ways and Means on Monday. Representative Story is meeting with House Ways and Means on Tuesday. Vice Chair of House Ways and Means Stephen Kulik is chairing a budget hearing at UMass on Monday and issued a special invitation to the morning’s speakers to bring their comments on library funding to the hearing.

The breakfast was spectacular! The morning was gorgeous, trustees greeted guests on the walk into the building and upon entry. The refreshments were delicious; there was room for conversation and real cups and plates. The programs are very striking; get a look at them if you can.

~N. Janeen Resnick, Assistant Regional Administrator, WMRLS

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rep Scibak listed 12 actions to take starting with contacting the Governor and Speaker of the House. Does anyone have the full list?

Post a Comment