Library requests slight increase in town grant

The Mark Twain Library is asking the town for a grant of $436,000 for fiscal 2013-14 that would maintain the town’s share of the library’s operating budget at 65%. The request is $13,000 more than in the current budget.

The library is an association library, not a town department. The town provides a portion of the library’s operating budget with the rest coming from fund-raisers, bequests and other private sources.

Library officials made their presentation to the Board of Selectmen at January’s budget workshop. Karen Gifford, library treasurer, said the library’s income is raised through four major fund-raisers, including the annual book fair, the art show, Frog Frolic, and Annual Appeal.

The library’s proposed budget for 2013-14 is $668,850. Salaries are up 2.2%. Library employees receive no benefits.

Ms. Gifford said building expenses are up 8.9% and noted the building is getting older and is in need of maintenance.

Later, she said that building maintenance is up substantially. The library has a capital plan that includes things like carpet replacement, she said, adding the carpet is 12 years old.

This year, she said, the library has embarked on a strategic plan, which includes a look at the library’s capital needs.

Ms. Gifford said the library’s budget includes money to add to the reserve fund. When the library has a savings in its budget at the end of a fiscal year, she said, that money typically goes into a reserve to cover future needs.

“It seems like people who use the library are the most motivated to donate to it,” said Ward Mazzucco, a finance board member. He asked if thought had been given to creating an opportunity for people to donate while visiting the library.

Beth Dominianni, library director, said she had spoken with other local libraries who said there are some security issues with having a donation box.

“The decision was made to charge selectively for programs, and we felt this was a more graceful way to seek contributions,” said Janice Meehan, library board president.

During the presentation, Ms. Dominianni presented highlights of the library’s services. Among the new services is access to a shared database of downloadable books and events to teach customers how to download these free resources to their devices.

Also available are downloadable music and language learning services. The library’s database holdings have expanded to include Morningstar Investment and the enhanced Consumer Reports online, said Ms. Dominianni. The library also has a blog and a Facebook page, she added.

“And, very importantly, our commitment to being a library which values community partnerships grows even stronger,” said Ms. Dominianni. She pointed to the weekly on-site service to Meadow Ridge and the library’s partnerships with community groups to offer programs.

The library also has a special scouting corner, said Ms. Dominianni, and uses its bulletin board to share information about local events. These are just a few of the things she mentioned.

The library’s continuing goal is to increase programs while keeping the quality of events and programs, said the library director. The library offered close to 300 programs for all ages last fiscal year, she said.

Last fiscal year, the library circulated more than 125,000 items, said Ms. Dominianni. There are 5,650 registered library users, she said.

The library’s per-capita use is well above the average for the state and towns the same size as Redding’s, Ms. Dominianni said.

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