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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Library makes cuts, dips into unreserved funds to help balance 2013 budget

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MASSENA - The Massena Public Library’s Board of Trustees agreed Tuesday night to make $10,000 in cuts to their 2013 budget and balance the remainder of the budget by dipping into their unreserved funds.

Library Director Elaine Dunne-Thayer suggested - and board members agreed - to take $5,000 from their library personal service line item and $5,000 from their library special projects line item to help cover a $22,720 hole in their 2013 budget, which will be adopted today by the Massena Town Council. The remaining $12,720 will be taken from their unreserved funds.

That would leave the library personal service line item at $246,811 and the library special projects line item at $5,000.

But, more importantly, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said, it will allow them to continue operating under their current hours with their current staff - at least for another year.

“I think it’s the way to go. I think it’s the fairest thing to the staff,” she said.

Trustees said that the changes in revenue would still have an impact on the way things were run at the library.

“It’s going to change the way we’re doing things next year. We’re buying time. Keep in mind we couldn’t do this every year or we’d run out of money,” trustee John “Jack” Bain said.

“I would agree to use some fund balance one time and transition to what the library is going to become based on this level of revenue,” trustee Emily Hutchison said.

“It will give us some time, and we agreed to maintain the current hours,” board President Mark Englert noted.

Ms. Dunne-Thayer said the cuts will affect the library’s collection over the next year.

“We really have to reexamine and be happy with everything we purchase,” she said.

Since the cuts and use of fund balance are a temporary fix, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said she’s looking at other avenues to help raise money. Among those, she said, is the possibility of looking at becoming a library district, something they had explored under retired Director Paul Schaffer and something that has been done in Potsdam.

She told trustees she had spoken with Mr. Schaffer and a representative at the Potsdam Public Library, but noted it would take some time if they opted to go that route.

“I think it’s something we should explore. I think it’s something we need to consider,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

If they opted to make that move, she said it would be important to let patrons know why they were looking at it - to avoid having to make costly moves such as cutting the popular Storytime program and cutting back on purchases for their collections.

At the same time, she said, they would need to let patrons know that, despite the cuts, they still had the building to maintain.

“The building costs are going to remain the same,” she said.

Ms. Dunne-Thayer said another idea is to have patrons “adopt” one of the 3,000 periodicals they subscribe to, saving the library the cost of having to purchase them. The patron would purchase the subscription to a magazine or newspaper that may be related to their line of work or a personal favorite, and their name would be put on the magazine label to let others know they had contributed.

She also discussed possibilities for fundraisers, including one in which patrons could purchase a memorial brick that would be placed near the bench outside the library.

“It’s something permanently part of the library,” she said.

In addition, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said, she would like to se a Battle of the Books for adults as another fundraiser. The library currently holds a youth Battle of the Books and, in the adult version, teams would need to read five or six books and answer questions about their contents.

“I think we would do pretty well with that,” she said.

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