Thursday, January 24, 2013

Warrant article seeks to form committee to study libraries

Are these people serious? With all of the pressing matters in town, emergency Budget Committee Meetings cause they can't manage money and spending tax money like it's water driving the rates up with spending warrant after spending warrant, these fools now want to abolish a piece of history that cost us a whopping $2,086. in spending on improvements last year. Don't let them pull the wool over your eyes, what's the real motive behind these latest shenanigans?

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:00 pm 
By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff

The historic tin ceiling at the Thayer Public Library in Ashuelot is one of the areas of the building that needs to be repaired. In the photo is library volunteer Joan Gratton, left, and trustee Harriet Charland                                          
WINCHESTER — Years of discussion about whether the town can afford two libraries is likely to come to a head at town meeting in March. A warrant article, which selectmen are recommending 4-1, seeks to establish a committee of seven residents to study the effects of consolidating the Thayer and Conant public libraries. If the article passes, the committee would be appointed by the selectmen and consist of one representative each from the Thayer and Conant libraries, and five town residents.
Selectmen Chairwoman Roberta A. Fraser said there has been a lot of interest and questions from residents and town officials about the need for Winchester to have two libraries. There have also been discussions within the town recently about who should be responsible for the care and upkeep of the Thayer Library moving forward, she said.
“It doesn’t hurt to look at the sustainability of having two libraries in town,” she said.
The Thayer Library, which is located on Ashuelot Main Street in the village of Ashuelot, was donated to Winchester by Julia Thayer in 1906, and has historically operated independently with little financial support from the town. Running the Conant Library, which is on Main Street, relies primarily on town funds.
The placement of the warrant article comes after Thayer Library trustees came under fire from the selectmen on Dec. 5 for the way in which they amended the library’s bylaws earlier in 2011. Of the bylaws that were amended, the selectmen took the most issue with the one that shifted the responsibilities of caring for the library away from the library director and trustees.
At the December meeting, Fraser said the original bylaws were intended to not put the burden of caring for the library on the town, and the new bylaws had been amended to completely change that intent without notifying the town.
Selectman Theresa Sepe said the library trustees should have brought the changes to the selectmen before making them, as the town had no funds in its budget to maintain the library.
According to the Winchester town report for fiscal year 2010-11, the Thayer Library’s expenses totaled $2,086, while the Conant Library spent $89,999. Also that year, over 10,000 books were loaned out to people using the Conant Library. In 2012, 236 books were borrowed from the Thayer Library.
The original Thayer Library bylaws, which dated back to when the building was donated to the town, put the responsibility of caring for the library and grounds on the library director. The director would live in the apartment above the library. The library now operates with an all-volunteer staff, and no one is living in the apartment.
It wasn’t until their meeting on Jan. 9 that the selectmen voted to put the warrant article to establish the library study committee on the March 12 ballot.
Julia Ferrari, chairwoman of the Thayer Library trustees, said while it’s likely the warrant article was based on financial reasons, it doesn’t take into account the long-term effect it could have on the quality of education provided to children in the community.
“If we only think about the ground we’re standing on right now, and not the future, we’re being short-sighted,” she said.
Edward Lake, who was the director of the Thayer Library from 1999 until he resigned in 2011, said while the library is an asset to the town and village of Ashuelot, he understands the selectmen’s concerns.
“We, like other towns, are in a financial crisis. Now out of the blue, we have something like the Thayer Library trustees changing things and bringing taxpayers more expenses that they never had before. They don’t want to take on the extra expense,” he said.
For decades, the Thayer Library has been self-sufficient, and what has gotten it in trouble is the trustees changing the bylaws, he said.
Over the years, Ashuelot has lost its school, fire department and mills, and closing the library would take away what makes Ashuelot significant, he said.
Ferrari said she doesn’t know what the future operational setup of the library may be, but the trustees hope to continue to connect with the Conant Library.
“By working hand-in-hand, the two libraries can work together and help each other,” she said.
Meghan Foley can be reached at 603-352 1234 x1436 or at Follow her on Twitter @MFoleyKS.

1 comment:

Ashuelot Literary Critic said...

How many Ashuelot libraries could the town support with just the increase in the insurance costs of the town employees. With what little it costs to run that library, the selectmen should be ashamed to even consider it. It costs less to run that library than just the benefits of one employee. It is an attempt to rob the village of Ashuelot of it's rich identity. Let's hope that the inhabitants of the village and surrounding area will remember the person that brought up this underhanded scheme. Spread the word.