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The Elmont Library Board of Trustees Makes a Difficult Decision

Alden LibraryWith a heavy heart the Board of Trustees of the Elmont Public Library announces the proposed closing of the Alden Manor and Steward Manor Branches.  The main Library, at 700 Hempstead Turnpike, will remain to continue and serve the community more efficiently. Despite the fact that use and circulation at the Branches has significantly declined, one thing that is consistently increasing is the cost to maintain and operate the Branches.  The two Branches have serviced Library patrons in our District for the past 68 years.  The decision to close the Alden Manor and Steward Manor Branches by the Board has most certainly not been entered into lightly. We would be remiss if we did not recognize the efforts of current and past Branch employees. stewart manor libraryTheir dedicated service over nearly seven decades will be greatly missed by our Alden and Stewart Manor patrons, however, we are working on a plan to ease the transition of the staff members from both Branches to the Main Library.  We welcome, of course, the Alden Manor and Stewart Manor patrons to the enjoyment and benefits of the main branch.


The Board of Trustees of the Elmont Public Library has been working vigorously over the past several months to reconcile a 7.2% proposed budget increase for the 2012/2013 year, and the escalating expenses to the Library and its taxpayers for the years ahead.  These increases, in large part, are due, but not limited, to the spiraling costs passed on to the Library by the Nassau Library System, which provides services to libraries such as coordinated database subscriptions at a discounted rate, inter-Library loans, delivery services, continuing education, coordination of Summer Reading Programs for Children and Teens, etc.  The Nassau Library System has increased the Elmont Public Library’s cost for these services at an approximate 1,375 percent increase over an 11-year period.  That is, in the year 2011, the Elmont Public Library’s cost for these services was $2,073.00, in 2012 it is $18,845.00, and in 2014 it is projected that the cost will be $30,615.00.  In addition, the Board is faced with increasing mandated retirement and health insurance costs, which have significantly increased 5,050 percent and 145 percent, respectively, over a 10-year period.  There are a number of other factors that contribute to the escalating costs the Library must absorb, but the aforementioned are the most incongruous.

For the past three years, the Board of Trustees has operated the Library at a zero percent increase to its taxpayers.  This may be misleading to taxpayers who believe that a zero percent increase insinuates that the Library has incurred no additional expenses.  This could not be further from the truth.  In 2002/03, the Library’s expenditures were $1,844,141.00.  In the 2012/13 budget, the Library’s expenditures are $3,240,092.00.  In 10 years, the Library’s expenditures increased $1,395,951.00 or 75%.  In reality, the Board has consistently taken into account the economic climate at hand and the financial wherewithal of its taxpayers in determining whether to present an increase.  Over the years, this has meant that the Board, its consultants, its director and staff had to be creative in providing services without sacrificing quality in order to present to the taxpayers an affordable budget.  Unfortunately, the state of the economy has not strengthened and taxpayers continue to face hardships.  It is with this in mind that the Board continues to strive for continued quality in services without burdening the taxpayer.  However, this year we have been presented with a slew of challenges that threaten this very vision.

After diligently reviewing the budget, taking into account the needs, the wants, and the financial considerations of every community member, the Board has resolved to close the beloved branches.  After much thought, consideration and a long discussion, it is the only financially prudent decision when looking ahead to the future.  In making this decision, the Board also looked to the following factors: current library trends, circulation, and library usage. Library trends are changing quickly as technology advances.  Hence, the traditional four-walled library, stacked with books, is changing.  Adult book circulation, DVDs, and CDs are steadfastly declining.  In the private sector, book and music stores are closing every day.  Downloadable books and music are on the rise.  Library patrons today are downloading approximately 100 books per week without stepping foot in the library!  These four walls are fast becoming a community resource center where patrons come not only to access books and materials, but to enjoy programs and entertainment, and utilize computers and the vast array of databases that the Elmont Public Library is able to offer. 

The decline in the traditional use of a library is evident by statistics which proffer that the Branches had their highest usage in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Their combined circulation totaled approximately 100,000 items!  In 2011, the circulation totaled 23,412, which represents a 77% drop in materials circulated.  Today, the Branches’ combined circulation equals only 7% of the total circulation.  Not only is circulation on the decline at the Branches, but so is patron usage.  In 2011, the Library had 32,603 patrons with Library cards, 450 of which used the Stewart Manor Branch and 688 of which used the Alden Manor Branch.  This represents 3% of Library card holders.

It is with a heavy heart, plus all of the aforementioned factors, that the Board has come to this decision.

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 13 March 2012 08:43 )  

Comments

 
0 # Tom Madera 2012-03-20 12:58
Imagine how you would feel if someone asked you for your checkbook, spent your money, but would not tell you what they purchased. Then, that person had the nerve to tell you that you are running short and something has to go. You would never allow that to happen, right?
Well, the lemming-like Elmont Library Board of Trustees, under the control of its Pied Piper -like consultant has been doing just that to this community for years. Want proof? Go on the library's website and look at what they call a "budget" proposal. See anything strange? Why is there no indication of what was actually spent? What kind of business presents a budget to budget proposal rather than a budget to actual expenses? The type that has something to hide that's who! Further proof needed? Why did I have to submit a Freedom of Information Law request to get a copy of the year to date actual financials? Something to hide? This is our money not theirs yet this board does everything it can to hide the truth and, as we know, a half truth is no less serious than an out and out lie.
This board just sits back and lets their sainted "consultant" tell them what to do. This "de facto" Library Director managed to get an increase to his contract, a contract which has not gone out to bid in over 25 years, at a time when the Board professes that every penny counts.
It's human nature to not care about something until it's gone...when it's too late. The good people of Alden Terrace and Stewart Manor now see this too clearly. They trusted this Board. They now see the error of their ways. If we as a community care about our library than I suggest we start start attending public meetings and ask questions to hold this board, and their boss, accountable.
As you know, the fastest way to flush out a vermin is to shine a light right in its face!
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+1 # Tom Madera 2012-03-15 13:51
This is a touching bit of smoke and mirrors seemingly prepared by the library. In reality it is yet another example of the poor fiscal management at the library despite the constant boasts of "no tax increase this year." Perhaps, with some foresight, planned slight tax increases could have contributed money to the dwindling reserve funds they have been sitting on, and using, over the years. Perhaps if they did not spend $50,000 more in legal fees, due primarily to poor management decisions, than budgeted (and not even approved in public sessions as required by law) there would be some extra money.
Their public presentation explaining their "logic" was slanted and seemingly inspired by the play "Chicago" when Billy Flynn sings, Give em' the old razzle dazzle...razzle dazzle 'em..."
Perhaps the need to close the branches is legitimate...pe rhaps. Even then it is clear that there are two problems. First, that this comes as a surprise to the board, and its "saint-like" business manager, is yet another sign of the seriously bad execution of the board's fiscal responsibility. Second, it shows that the library board has a bigger problem than just the public's reaction to the closing of two community locations. If you speak to the people who attended the presentations I'd venture to say...no one believed a word of the presentation.
If these board members love the library so much they should do the right thing...RESIGN!
Sincerely,
Thomas Madera
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