Tuesday, January 08, 2008

WESTCHESTER LIBRARY SYSTEM ON POWERS OF LIBRARY BDS

Dear Supervisor Feiner:
Not meaning to be contrary, but NYS Education Laws are pretty specific regarding the roles and responsibilities of library boards. They don’t “wish to be independent” of their funding bodies they absolutely are independent of their funding bodies. Of note, trustees of public libraries derive their “powers” from the NYS Board of Regents and it is the Board of Regents that defines the roles and responsibilities of public library trustees. Under Public Library Law(s) library boards have broad and almost exclusive powers and authority to administer the library. The funding agency – in this case the Town of Greenburgh - appoints or approves the recommendation of individuals to the library board. Once that individual becomes a board member and takes their oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions they become a member of an independent body receiving public funds.
Local Laws have no impact on the overall governance of the library since libraries are State chartered organizations.
It is the ultimate responsibility of the Greenburgh Board of Trustees to effectively allocate the budget which meets minimum standards of the State as well as deliver library services which meet the needs of the broadest constituency given challenging budget scenarios.
I have spoken with Tim Lewis and pointed out sections 259 and 260 of the Public Library Laws of New York State which deal with the creation of public libraries and the roles and responsibilities of public library trustees.
Hopefully this information is helpful. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to call on me.
Siobhan A Reardon
Director
Westchester Library System
540 White Plains Road
Tarrytown, New York 10591-5110
Tel: (914) 231-3223

Fax: (914) 674-4185

Email: sreardon@wlsmail.org

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why not publish Tim Lewis's opinion? He said the same thing.

hal samis said...

Again, it is not the State Education Laws that residents should look to for relief -- it is the seven members of the Library Board of Trustees.

Do they feel obligated to honor their commitment to maintain the cybermobile while the Library occupys limited space in Town Hall. The cybermobile did not always maintain the existing service schedule -- it was increased to serve their patrons during the disruption of the expansion so that patrons would forget that it was the Library Trustees who screwed up the relocation plan.

Is it a wise decision instead to spend MORE on books, cds and dvds in 2008 than in 2007 ($165,000 more) so as to be able to fill shelves in a larger building which won't open before October of 2008? I think not. If patrons have "suffered" through 2007, I suspect they can suffer through the remaining three months of 2008 as well -- compensated by receiving the benefit of the cybermobile for the entire year. And, what if the new building is not completed until 2009? Then there was no benefit to having purchased the additional items so that they can sit in storage. In 2009, they would be on solid ground to drive the cybermobile to the the junkyard. But not in 2008.

The strategy of the Library Trustees is to wage war with Town Hall and they don't care who gets hurt along the way. Clearly they hope that when the completed building opens, patrons will oooh and ahhh and forget all that has happened during their tenure as Trustees.

Greenburgh Library Foundation: take note of this arrogance, you have been asked to raise money for the Library because there is no longer any money left to fund the $1,350,000 of the Referendum funds to purchase furniture and technology -- even though they claim the project is not over-budget. A statement which residents now realize means only that they will not spend more than $19.8 million, even if there is no money to pay for a locking front door. But as you go your merry way soliciting funds from residents, corporations and foundations, ask yourself if the Library Trustees have made your job any simpler?

For the record:
my role is to remind everyone.

Anonymous said...

The WLS letter makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

In a library district the trustees are elected and the budget is subject to approval by annual vote - just like the Board of Education budget.
Think long and hard about creating an independent library district. Voting down the school budget hasn't improved the schools. Why would anyone think defeating the library budget will make the library better?
We will end up with a library on a par with our public schools.

amusing ourselves into debt said...

again, in the age of google, wikipedia, netflix, comcast, ancestry.com etc- why do we need libraries as we know them? this whole enterprise has been a huge failure of the imagination. its insane to spend 30 million dollars so a bunch of retirees can read magazines or take out best sellers.

an earlier blogger had half right - the new library is evidence that greenburgh is bankrupt both fiscally and mentally.

Anonymous said...

We need libraries because reading (and learning) should be fun, social experiences. Using a computer is a socially isolating experience - just the opposite of what is desirable in the development of young people and the continuing social functioning of older ones.
Buying books is what a library does - Hal Samis and Ed Krauss notwithstanding. Having new books on a continuing basis is a function of a library - and causes people to visit the library and perhaps socialize with other people.
Too bad none of the Library's Board of Trustees has the wit to say this in response to the badgering questions of the anti-library coalition.

Anonymous said...

Power is being abused.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that the library board doesn't care.

hal samis said...

To anonymous (naturally) at 7:30,

No one, no one, no one has argued against buying books.

Spending $183,000 MORE on books, cds and dvds in 2008 then was spent in 2007 is the issue -- while choosing to eliminate the cybermobile and Sunday hours instead.

Not moving into the completed building until October the earliest argues that should it happen, even that soon, that in a difficult unincorporated Town budget year, the Library could hold off another three months and increase their purchases in 2009 when the new building will be open for certain.

If reading is your thing (and how this is more of a social experience than a computer is beyond me unless you read aloud which would be considered a disturbance in a Library), then it would also seem reasonable to make these items AVAILABLE to readers --perhaps on the cybermobile or on Sundays.

Given the presumed financial encumbrances to buy and be open, I argue that having the cybermobile while the Library is downsized is more important that spending ADDITIONAL sums for purchases to go into storage until the Library re-opens.

What you seem to ignore (although you think you are one with wit) is that one can be "for" the Library, the institution, yet not be for how it is run which locally is the textBOOK for spite, venom and incompetence. One can be for America and oppose the war in Iraq or, one can be for America and favor the war in Iraq. Democracy allows for differences of opinions.

Locally we have parents agreeing with School Boards and parents disagreeing with School Boards. What makes the Library Board exempt from "badgering".

You pay taxes which support the Library.
You pay taxes which support the
Department of Public Works.
It is ok to criticize the DPW but it is not ok to criticize the Library.

Maybe you aren't really learning anything from your reading experience. Myself, reading your posting, I come away with the feeling that going to the Library is the way you confront your loneliness issues and view the Library visit as the means to a social venue.

With a $3.4 million operating budget and a $19.8 million construction budget (plus a few million here and there), doesn't it strike you that it would be a lot cheaper if you went instead to group psychotherapy?