Library Budget

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Library Budget

Postby RBarnes » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:44 pm

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/905 ... -over.html

Thought this might be worth discussing here.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby MissyB » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:52 pm

I saw a rerun of the meeting. It was quite informative. I learned alot. There are a couple of Councilors who don't seem to be afraid to confront "touchy" issues. Apparently, in the past, the Town probably was not as frugal as it could have been or as other Towns were.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby MissyB » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:52 pm

duplicate
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:06 am

I wonder why Ms Angus claims it is illegal to use volunteers? I wasn't aware that was a problem.

I agree that several part-time positions could be eliminated and replaced with volunteers.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Pat McGrath » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:33 am

The idea of firing people and replacing them with volunteers is illegal under Federal and state law. Do it and you will have the Department of Labor all over the everyone to say nothing of the civil lawsuits by the affected workers that would ensue.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby chancellor » Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:08 pm

I spend a fair amount of time at our library, nice to have a little quiet reading time... I have always loved libraries in general, and believe they are important for a community. My observations is that the library is often over-staffed. In fact, a couple of months ago I spent two hours in the children's section with my grandson. There were three staff members there, all of which were sitting at their computers. By the looks of their monitors, two of them were clearly not working on library-related matters. Again, this went on for two hours.

There really shouldn't have been more than one person on duty during that time. Most of the time, the staff of three out numbered the patrons.

Has anyone looked at efficiency standards at the library? Perhaps lack of organization creates a false sense of need for more people.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby TonyRichardson » Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:21 pm

Pat McGrath wrote:The idea of firing people and replacing them with volunteers is illegal under Federal and state law. Do it and you will have the Department of Labor all over the everyone to say nothing of the civil lawsuits by the affected workers that would ensue.



Cite the statutes please
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Re: Library Budget

Postby tim dutton » Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:11 pm

ADULT VOLUNTEERS – GENERAL
It is very clear in both state (NH RSA 275.42-I; NH RSA 279:1X; and NH LAB 803.05 Exemption) and federal law (29 CFR 553.100-.106 and WH Publication 1297 “Employment Relationship” of the Fair Labor Standards Act) that a volunteer cannot take the place of a paid worker who is already employed by the library. For example, a Town’s Board of Selectmen would not be able to replace a paid library employee with a volunteer simply because they wanted to save money in a tight budget year.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Dennis King » Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:13 pm

If ever there was a stupid law this is it, in the real world, any of us workers can be replaced by a machine that does our job or outsourcing it to workers in other countries, or any other form of downsizing but government workers are immune? As it is they get over a million dollars of our tax dollars when they retire (over and above what they contribute) and they have 29 employees, I think it only fair to eliminate their high paying jobs with great benefits and yes, lets replace them with volunteers, say the seniors who meet 30 yards from the library, bet they would love to help out and be a positive force in the community. They want to sue, I say bring it on, time to stop the arrogance of public employees who threaten us if we simply want to control our taxes. By my estimate, the budget should be cut in half, say $550,000 a year. They need be open only 5 days a week and like the adult ed program, I have no problem with a user fee for this and before you call me a hypocrite, this is for extra services, not essential ones. I am also against charging a person to use the ambulance as that is an essential service but to attend a seminar or other such program, a small fee is not out of line
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:41 am

Dennis

The ambulance service is pretty expensive. My bill was $800 and my nephew's bill was $3,000 when he was injured!!!

AND WOW ON THE LITTLE RULES MADE AGAINST VOLUNTEERS AT THE LIBRARY. Shows you how little any of these government workers care about the people they serve who pay their salaries, benefits and retirements. GOOD GRIEF!

I would lay them off anyway. The library is open 60 hours per week and they need 29 people? Come on - someone has built themselves a little bulletproof empire over there.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby hrodbert696 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:56 pm

@ chancellor: details about what the three staff in children's were doing? The children's staff are more than babysitters (indeed, they are NOT babysitters). The children's room has a collection to develop and keep up-to-date which includes a huge variety of materials from books to music to games to computer software, etc. Keeping it up-to-date, with the right and most effective and desirable materials, while staying inside budget constraints is a time-consuming task. Besides this, they need to plan the programs they provide to promote literacy and socialization for children in this community, both ones they put on themselves and guest programs.

It's incredibly irresponsible to accuse people who are not your own supervisees of not doing essential work just because they had something on a computer screen that YOU don't know how it relates to their responsibilities. Would you want to lose your job because someone who has only the vaguest notion of what you do all day didn't understand what your activity at work was intended for? Would you, as a supervisor, have someone who doesn't know what your department does force you to fire hard-working people because THEY don't know what they do or what the value of it is?

Pleading that "you love the library but" rings false and hypocritical under these conditions.

Secondly:
Nobody is weighing the long-term, overall value of a strong library program to a community. If an upwardly mobile young family were moving into the area and choosing between two towns to live in, do you think they would prefer the one with an active library with lots of programs to enhance their kids' socialization and education, a great facility and well-trained staff, or the one that has a half-maintained cave, full of disorganized tattered old books, run by a part-time untrained volunteer who can't answer questions like which books will make little Johnny love to read again? These things end up affecting your property values, people. Let Merrimack go down in the news as the town that thinks it doesn't need to tangibly support a library to help young families and see which way things go.

Everyone knows times are hard. I sure hope every town agency is working on ways to tighten their belts and trim their budgets. But talking about making an agency cut a quarter to a third of their budget in a single year defies any standard of responsible management. It sounds more like a vendetta.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:01 am

It sounds more like a vendetta.


Sounds to me like you have a personal stake in this. TImes are hard and I would rather see library employees cut before police and fire. It's about personal safety for every person in this town. The library could be closed and no one would be in danger. And no, I am not advocating for closure. I am simply stating the Town Manager and Council have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the people and property in this town. There is no vendetta toward the library - it''s about spending.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby hrodbert696 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:28 am

Jeannine Stergios wrote:
It sounds more like a vendetta.


Sounds to me like you have a personal stake in this. TImes are hard and I would rather see library employees cut before police and fire. It's about personal safety for every person in this town. The library could be closed and no one would be in danger. And no, I am not advocating for closure. I am simply stating the Town Manager and Council have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the people and property in this town. There is no vendetta toward the library - it''s about spending.


Personal stake is irrelevant - discounting a valid argument because the person articulating it has a stake in it is known as the "genetic fallacy." An argument is valid or invalid on its own grounds regardless of who states it, so if you would like to show that my points are invalid, please address the points rather than going ad hominem.

Now, going over the budget spreadsheet. I'm not an accountant, but what I see in the line summary budget looks like this: currently, the total town budget is looking at a cut of 1.1%, from $29.3 million to 29.08 million. Cutting an additional $200,000 from the library budget (beyond the $50K already proposed to cut) will make that a total town budget cut of 1.4%. Now, a number of departments have proposed cuts comparable to the current cut proposed by Ms. Angus, in the 3-5% range (more than the total cut in the town budget already): solid waste, welfare, debt servicing. Police and Fire, actually, are already taking significantly bigger cuts than most departments: 13% for fire and 8% for police (10% if you don't count the $693K added for outside policing). I find it odd that people say they want to cut librarians rather than policemen when they ARE cutting policemen. Parks and recreation is getting hammered with a 49% cut, 21% if you count the new daycamp as part of its total budget.

Meanwhile, there are increases in lots of other departments: 3-5% increases in communication, public works, buildings and grounds, community development, and elsewhere: 12% in the town clerk's office, and a 34% increase -- $1.4 million, more than the entire library budget -- for highways.

Now every budget is a juggle, there are always things that have to go up no matter how the economy is and other things have to go to make up for it. But is it really not possible that a couple of the departments getting 5% increases might get 3%? That departments currently cutting 3% might cut 5%? That the town could increase the highway budget 1.3 million instead of 1.4 and save $100,000?

I can see that the library's budget could be brought into proportion to the sacrifices made by police and fire -- a budget cut of 8-12% rather than 5%. That would be a total cut of $92,000-130,000 -- more than the $50,000 suggested by the Library already but not the absurd figures of $250,000 and $300,000 that are being thrown around.

The problem with deep cuts is that they threaten the threshold of viability. It's all very well to claim that one doesn't want to eliminate the library altogether -- one just wants to underfund it to the point that it can't do its community any good, only have its doors open for a few erratic hours and unable to offer any beneficial programming; after a year or two of that say that the library is useless and THEN eliminate it. Take a children's department, for instance; one staff member is needed to run the room, above and beyond anyone running programming. If staff were slashed so that there is only one employee available at any given time, it becomes impossible to run any of the programming that promotes children's literacy and school-preparedness. There would be no one to spare from running the room. Cutting too much staff elsewhere and you have long lines to check out at circulation, no one available to answer reference questions, huge backlogs getting materials checked back in and properly reshelved so that they can actually be found, and so forth. Of course, cuts can be made, including perhaps the necessity of losing some staff. But reason and moderation need to prevail in any discussion.

Cuts too deep would effectively gut the library's ability to serve the community. It would mean depriving Merrimack of the investment it has already put into building up a valuable service to its taxpayers over the years. It would also cost the community its ability to attract talented people to the program in the future; a reputation as a fickle employer that dumps employees en masse to make short-term savings is not a desirable thing. As others have pointed out, there are also legalities involved in some aspects of this issue, whether you happen to approve of the laws or not. The costs of litigation, and the negative publicity it would produce, could cost the town more than keeping its budget cuts reasonable.

Finally, let me state the obvious, which people seem to have forgotten -- a library is an asset to a community. It makes it a more attractive place for people to live, and that means it improves property values for everyone in town, even if they don't take advantage of its services personally. It helps children prepare for school when they're little and do better in school as they grow older, which means fewer kids dropping out of school and being out on the street. Indeed, in that sense, a librarian does as much for the safety of residents over the long term as a policeman - he or she prevents kids going down the road that would land them in the police's hands. And it does this cost-efficiently. Compare the salary of a librarian with their master's degree to people in almost any other profession with comparable degrees and tell me that they are overpaid for what they do.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby TonyRichardson » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:14 am

hrodbert696 wrote:@ chancellor: details about what the three staff in children's were doing? The children's staff are more than babysitters (indeed, they are NOT babysitters). The children's room has a collection to develop and keep up-to-date which includes a huge variety of materials from books to music to games to computer software, etc. Keeping it up-to-date, with the right and most effective and desirable materials, while staying inside budget constraints is a time-consuming task. Besides this, they need to plan the programs they provide to promote literacy and socialization for children in this community, both ones they put on themselves and guest programs.

It's incredibly irresponsible to accuse people who are not your own supervisees of not doing essential work just because they had something on a computer screen that YOU don't know how it relates to their responsibilities. Would you want to lose your job because someone who has only the vaguest notion of what you do all day didn't understand what your activity at work was intended for? Would you, as a supervisor, have someone who doesn't know what your department does force you to fire hard-working people because THEY don't know what they do or what the value of it is?

Pleading that "you love the library but" rings false and hypocritical under these conditions.

Secondly:
Nobody is weighing the long-term, overall value of a strong library program to a community. If an upwardly mobile young family were moving into the area and choosing between two towns to live in, do you think they would prefer the one with an active library with lots of programs to enhance their kids' socialization and education, a great facility and well-trained staff, or the one that has a half-maintained cave, full of disorganized tattered old books, run by a part-time untrained volunteer who can't answer questions like which books will make little Johnny love to read again? These things end up affecting your property values, people. Let Merrimack go down in the news as the town that thinks it doesn't need to tangibly support a library to help young families and see which way things go.

Everyone knows times are hard. I sure hope every town agency is working on ways to tighten their belts and trim their budgets. But talking about making an agency cut a quarter to a third of their budget in a single year defies any standard of responsible management. It sounds more like a vendetta.


Pot meet Kettle

Don't accuse other people of ad hominem attacks when you start out accusing someone of hypocrisy.
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Re: Library Budget

Postby hrodbert696 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:17 pm

TonyRichardson wrote:
hrodbert696 wrote:@ chancellor: details about what the three staff in children's were doing? The children's staff are more than babysitters (indeed, they are NOT babysitters). The children's room has a collection to develop and keep up-to-date which includes a huge variety of materials from books to music to games to computer software, etc. Keeping it up-to-date, with the right and most effective and desirable materials, while staying inside budget constraints is a time-consuming task. Besides this, they need to plan the programs they provide to promote literacy and socialization for children in this community, both ones they put on themselves and guest programs.

It's incredibly irresponsible to accuse people who are not your own supervisees of not doing essential work just because they had something on a computer screen that YOU don't know how it relates to their responsibilities. Would you want to lose your job because someone who has only the vaguest notion of what you do all day didn't understand what your activity at work was intended for? Would you, as a supervisor, have someone who doesn't know what your department does force you to fire hard-working people because THEY don't know what they do or what the value of it is?

Pleading that "you love the library but" rings false and hypocritical under these conditions.

Secondly:
Nobody is weighing the long-term, overall value of a strong library program to a community. If an upwardly mobile young family were moving into the area and choosing between two towns to live in, do you think they would prefer the one with an active library with lots of programs to enhance their kids' socialization and education, a great facility and well-trained staff, or the one that has a half-maintained cave, full of disorganized tattered old books, run by a part-time untrained volunteer who can't answer questions like which books will make little Johnny love to read again? These things end up affecting your property values, people. Let Merrimack go down in the news as the town that thinks it doesn't need to tangibly support a library to help young families and see which way things go.

Everyone knows times are hard. I sure hope every town agency is working on ways to tighten their belts and trim their budgets. But talking about making an agency cut a quarter to a third of their budget in a single year defies any standard of responsible management. It sounds more like a vendetta.


Pot meet Kettle

Don't accuse other people of ad hominem attacks when you start out accusing someone of hypocrisy.


Thank you for the reproof. I was angered by the string of complaints about the library that people had posted, which I feel are unjustified and which put other people's livelihoods at risk. If I was inconsistent, I apologize.

In the meantime, I would appreciate anyone who would offer any substantive reply to the points I have raised.
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