April 30, 2011
Statement by the New Jersey Library Association
THE USE OF STATE AND FEDERAL LIBRARY FUNDS
THE ELIMINATION OF QandANJ
NJLA believes the library community must have a voice in determining the programs and services provided by state and federal dollars to the residents of New Jersey. Currently, the NJ State Librarian has two committees with statutory responsibilities in providing direction for the use of state/or federal funds. These committees are the LSTA Advisory Committee and the Library Network Review Board. In order to provide transparency to the library community, the New Jersey State Library must consult with its proper advisory board when budgetary or programmatic changes are to be made. This will give the library community the opportunity to provide input to these critical decisions.
NJLA believes that the decision to eliminate QandANJ should have been presented to the proper advisory board for discussion and input by the library community. The loss of this service has serious implications for the residents of New Jersey and a thoughtful deliberative discussion by the library community would have been beneficial to the library community and the state library. In these days of declining resources NJLA understands that the State Library has the difficult task of balancing the needs of the New Jersey library community and determining how best to utilize these scarce resources. But we also believe the library community’s representatives to the LSTA Advisory Committee and the Library Network Review Board have much to contribute. As the voice of the library community, their advice should be sought and carefully considered.
The recently posted QandANJ fact sheet references an NJLA survey conducted last year. The NJLA Public Policy Committee did do a survey that identified Databases, ILL/Delivery and State Aid as top priorities among statewide services but that survey was conducted in December 2008, not last year. The survey was discussed extensively during the forums NJLA conducted in early 2009 but it has not been updated since that time and NJLA does not know if this is an accurate representation of how the library community would prioritize services today. Again, NJLA believes the advice and counsel of the LSTA Advisory Committee and the Library Network Review Board as well as the QandANJ providers should have been sought in this matter prior to announcement of a final decision on de-funding this service.
The NJLA Reference Section will be holding a discussion on May 13 regarding the options for QandANJ. Everyone is welcome.
The New Jersey Library Association expects the NJ State Library to hold an open meeting with the entire library community as soon possible to discuss the allocation of all state and federal funding. Transparency in the use of library funding is critical for all.
Issued by the New Jersey Library Association April 29, 2011
Bridgeton library boosted by $100K grant from state
April 29, 2011
BRIDGETON — Efforts to save the city’s public library just got a big boost, in the form of $100,000 courtesy of the New Jersey Historic Trust.
Involved groups gathered Thursday evening at the Bridgeton library to celebrate the news, which was received that morning following an announcement by the Trust’s Board of Trustees.
Save the Library! (STL) and the non-profit Friends of the Library have been steadily moving towards a 2/3 match for that $100,000 grant.
They are still $28,000 short but the Trust has faith that the match will be met within six months.
The gap was $43,000 last fall when New Jersey News (NJN) came Bridgeton to profile STL.
The two groups, STL and Friends, have been working towards this grant for quite some time.
“It’s really the community that made this possible,” said Sally Garrison of STL.
Numerous fundraisers have all pumped up their piggy bank for restoring the aging portions of the former Cumberland National Bank.
The 1816 portion of the library had a slate roof and STL would have preferred it redone with the same materials. Unfortunately, slate slabs were cost-prohibitive, and shingles were used instead.
It’s better than nothing.
Because of leaks, “We had I don’t know how many trash cans up there,” said Garrison. Interior storms windows have also since been installed.
Recently, $30,000 was put towards repairing and repointing the brickwork on the east wall of the building. Roughly $4,600 was used to put the new roof, gutter and downspouts.
A recent award of Trust funds in Cumberland County was $15,109 in 2009 towards the former Nail and Iron Works Office in Bridgeton.
Garrison said that the goal is “making the library more self-sustainable” and increasing the number of services the building could provide.
The city has been unable to provide level funding towards the library in recent years.
They had received $190,000 in support but the roughly $70,000 total for employee benefits was in question.
“With the financial crush today, citizens have to pick up the ball and run,” said Garrison.
More fundraising events are planned for the near future and other recent ones have assisted in those efforts.
Over $600 was raised at an Earth Day screening of Stow Creek native Lester Brown’s “Plan B: Mobilizing to save Civilization.”
Another screening, with free admission, is planned for May 4 at the Ashley McCormick Center in Bridgeton.
Other fundraisers include the “Bratwurst and Books” dinner event on Saturday. For $10 a plate, diners can get their German food fix and help STL.
Also, a rollerskating party on May 11 at Skate 2000 in Bridgeton is planned. Tickets are $5 each with equipment rentals for $3.
April 27, 2011
Northvale voters say no to library funding
April 27, 2011
BY DENISA R. SUPERVILLE
NORTHVALE — Voters defeated a ballot question asking them to approve an additional $500,000 in the tax levy to fund the library and replenish the borough’s surplus.
The 647-239 vote means that Northvale will have to go back to the auditor and the chief financial officer to remove $500,000 from the budget, council finance liaison Patrick Marana said.
Voters also defeated the local school budget and the borough’s portion of the Northern Valley Regional High School budget.
“It’s not going to be easy,” council President Ed Piehler said of the cuts that now must be made to the municipal budget.
The referendum issue’s defeat also means that if the library does not come up with a way to fund its operating costs — about $250,000 this year — it will have to close after its surplus is depleted.
The library had been using its surplus to pay bills and payroll since receiving its last check from the borough in 2010.
Virginia Beckman, the library’s director, has said that it would be devastating if the 54-year-old library closed.
Library supporters have argued that a closure would hurt students, especially those who attend the Northern Valley Regional High School and would not have access to the same materials as their peers from other towns. The loss of the library also would hurt property values, Beckman said.
“If they lose it, I can’t see getting the library back,” Beckman said. “If the referendum does not pass, that would be people’s decision, but I think at that point people would be turning around and saying, “How could this happen? How could you let this happen?”
Borough officials have argued that they do not have the money to give to the library this year. They blamed the 2 percent tax levy cap, which reduced the percentage by which municipalities could increase taxes, and the loss of a series of one-time revenues that were used in last year’s budget.
Town and library officials have sparred over the library’s finances for the last month, and town officials have suggested that the library raise more money through donations and use more volunteers to stay afloat.
The town was also hoping to use a portion of the $500,000 to create a rainy day fund, Piehler said.
He said the referendum was not intended to be a one-time quick fix.
“It’s an infusion of cash to help us get through a horrible year, and to set up a plan going forward,” he said. “We are not going to take this infusion of cash and throw it into the budget.”
The borough introduced an $8.23 million spending plan on April 7 that included a $6.09 million tax levy.
The additional cost to the owner of a home assessed at the borough average of $386,900 would have been $363, according to the borough.
Without the referendum, the municipal tax increase would be about $135 with a 2 percent tax levy cap, officials said.
Before deciding to go out for a referendum, the borough had a list of items to cut to stay within the tax levy cap. The possible cuts included turning off the streetlights in some areas of town, keeping the cost of borough professionals to the 2010 levels and reducing police overtime, Marana said.
The borough was the only Bergen County municipality to ask voters to exceed the cap and one of 14 in the state to do so, according to the state Department of Community Affairs.
Renny and Beena Koshy both voted yes on the referendum and the school budget, although they home-school their four children.
Renny Koshy said he wanted his children to have access to the Bergen County Library System.
“I have kids that use the library,” he said after voting at the McGuire Senior Center. “We make them read all the time. It’s important to us. A couple of hundred dollars now is nothing compared to their future.”
Northvale’s budget hearing is scheduled for May 10 at 7:30.
Princeton library getting a boost
April 24, 2011
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
PRINCETON BOROUGH -- The governing bodies of both the borough and township have approved an increase in funding for the Princeton Public Library for 2011 to make up for rising costs and declining income as technology changes the way people use libraries.
Township and borough officials agreed at a joint meeting last week to contribute about $3.8 million to the library budget this year, despite the fact that most other departments are getting no increase. The total library budget, including capital spending and a parking garage fund, is about $5 million.
"The budget we delivered to you was the best effort of all the trustees to get the job done," said Katherine McGavern, president of the library board of trustees. "We tried very hard to comply with your zero growth request. This is the first time in three years we have had to request additional funding."
Library director Leslie Burger said the added funding will help the library maintain its service. The extra funding was needed to cover increased costs for health care and pension contributions for staff members, who will get a 2 percent raise this year.
While some costs are up, revenue is down in certain areas, Burger said.
"We rely on a variety of businesses to generate a steady stream of income, from movie rentals to late book fees to copy fees," she said. "But an interesting thing is starting to happen, and this is where we are feeling those strains. All those revenue sources that continued to grow have now started to decrease. It illustrates the changing nature of our business."
Imagine this scenario, she said: "It's Friday night and you can drive or walk to the library, look at the movie selection, pay a dollar, pay a parking fee and go home," she said. "Or you can sit on a sofa, click your remote control and stream a movie from your TV set."
Burger estimated that in a few more years, DVDs may be replaced by the instant streaming model.
The same thing applies to electronic books. The library has depended on late fees to add to its coffers, but electronic books mean kissing those fees goodbye.
"You can check an electronic resource out and it gets auto-checked back in," she said. "In the past people would bring a book back and pay a late fee. It is not built into the electronic model."
Burger said she does not see any new revenue streams or "quick fixes" on the horizon.
The library wants to put cell antennas on its roof and lease roof space for solar panels. That could generate more money for the library, but those are longer-term projects that will not help this year.
The library had almost 800,000 visitors in 2010 and more than 50,000 people participated in library programs.
Cumberland County residents beg freeholders to keep library open
April 26, 2011
By THOMAS BARLAS Staff Writer
BRIDGETON — Cumberland County residents begged their freeholders Tuesday to change their minds about a wide range of funding cuts, one of which could lead to the demise of the county library here.
More than 130 residents packed the third floor meeting room in the county courthouse for the freeholders’ budget hearing.
While those residents said they understand money is tight, they said some services are too important to cut.
One of the chief objections was to laying off the county library staff, something that would essentially close the facility. That would make Cumberland County the first county in the state to shutter a library system because of budgetary problems.
Fran Smith, whose United Auto Workers union represents library workers, said the county can still make changes — in part by better scheduling — that could keep the library open. Those changes would still result in layoffs, but fewer than are now being considered, he said.
Hopewell Township resident Gregory Lane said one of the most important things that government can do is give people the chance to improve themselves — something that happens regularly at the county library.
“It is still an excellent depository for books and knowledge,” Lane said, adding that it provides necessary services to many county residents who can’t afford Internet services to help search for jobs.
The county took no final action on the budget Tuesday night.
Freeholder Chairman William Whelan said the budget needs further review, and there is yet no approval of the proposed fiscal plan by the state Department of Community Affairs. There are still decisions to be made about what revenue can be plugged into the budget from the Cumberland Manor nursing home, he said.
Whelan said there is still a $1.6 million budget gap that needs to be closed.
“We must determine how we are going to close that gap,” he said. “We will be working on that in the next several weeks.”
“I think the important thing is that we have more problems than we thought,” Freeholder Thomas Sheppard said.
The situation may result in county officials being “more draconian in our cuts,” he said.
Budget adoption is now scheduled for the freeholder’s May 24 meeting. The freeholders will continue the budget hearing at that time.
The county is proposing a $136.9 million budget, of which $82.9 million will be raised by taxation. That’s the same figure as the past two years.
The budget would raise the county tax rate by 4 cents. The resulting tax rate of 90 cents per $100 of assessed property value would cost a home owner $90 in county taxes for a property assessed at $100,000 this year.
County officials are considering layoffs, privatizing some services and other cuts to close the budget gap.
But the possible library closing drew the most response on Tuesday.
Residents said studies show that property values are higher near libraries. They told the freeholders that the county library is one of few options for children living in poverty — a significant problem in Cumberland County — to find books to read. One student from Hopewell Township gave the freeholders a petition signed by 300 people who want to keep the county library open.
Local resident Frank Hartman said closing the county library, which is located on Route 49 here, would be one more blow to the city, which has already lost several state agencies in the past several months.
“We have nothing left but the library,” Hartman said. “We are citizens of this city. We expect and demand that our elected officials make the right decisions that are best for our community.”
Francis Reilly, executive director of the CEO Group, a nonprofit corporation made up of more than 40 private companies in the county, asked the freeholder to consider selling Cumberland Manor. That could raise needed money for the budget, he said, and possibly help save the county library.
“The CEO Group firmly believes that this board should carefully investigate and seriously consider a sale of (the manor) to private enterprise,” he said.
The county is also proposing to cut the $25,000 it provides for the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or SPCA.
The agency’s director, Bev Greco, said withholding the money might wind up costing taxpayers more money in the long run. The county might have to turn to costly private companies to do the services the SPCA currently performs, she said.
“This cut, along with what we’re suffering in the community, will be one more thing that will make us unavailable to give the county the services it needs,” Greco said.
The county is also considering privatizing nursing services at the county jail.
Carol Warren, a nurse at the jail, said the county will find it difficult to get nurses willing to work in the facility.
“I don’t think privatizing is the answer,” she said. “You’re not going to find anybody qualified more than we are.”
Contact Thomas Barlas:
April 26, 2011
On eve of public hearing, Cumberland County officials still wrangling with budget
April 25, 2011
By Jason Laday
The Cumberland County freeholders will meet Tuesday night at the county courthouse, located at 60 W. Broad St., at 6:30 p.m.
decision by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) regarding the county budget.
According to officials, the DCA is considering a $2 million revenue increase related to Cumberland Manor the freeholders placed into the budget based on projected trends at the nursing home.
If the DCA disallows the increase, it would be a “game changer,” according to Freeholder Bill Whelan.
While the county freeholders have stated they hoped to vote on the fiscal year 2011 budget Tuesday night, Whelan on Monday said there’s a chance that may not happen.
Either way, the freeholders will definitely hold a public hearing on the budget at 6:30 tonight, in the freeholder room on the third floor of Cumberland County Courthouse, in Bridgeton.
“At this point we’re still waiting on the state to make its decision, and, at this moment, we’re at the same place we were two weeks ago — we don’t have a budget,” said Whelan. “(At the public hearing), we will say exactly where we are in the process, but, at this point, it is still too preliminary to say what the budget will look like.”
The Cumberland County freeholders on March 14 introduced a $129,844,357 fiscal year 2011 budget on Tuesday.
In the proposed budget, which could and most likely will be amended before it is finally approved, the tax levy remains flat at $82,938,491.
However, the preliminary budget’s tax rate is increased approximately 4 cents per $100 of assessed value, from 86.48 cents to 90.17 cents, in order to achieve that same levy.
Also in the preliminary budget is the elimination of 47 county jobs and the privatization of 79 others.
The Cumberland County Library would be closed under the preliminary budget.
The 4-H program will not be axed, according to the freeholder board.
While a letter sent to the Cumberland County SPCA from the county administration office stated the county would no longer allocate $25,000 to the society, county officials now state they are looking for ways to reinstate the stipend.
April 22, 2011
Hazlet Township Library opens after successful renovation project
The Hazlet Township Library is now open after the successful completion of a three-month, $122,902 renovation.
The library now boasts new, brighter lighting and new ceilings throughout the building.
The project was completed on schedule and basically on budget, according to Stacey Cherichello, consulting engineer from CME Associates. The architect was PLM Architect of Howell, and the contractor was Peterson and Staeger, Inc. of Keyport.
The project came in just $1,400 over the original estimate of $121,500, Cherichello said. All work is complete except for the hanging of six pendant lights near the circulation desk. Those fixtures are on order and should be installed by the middle of May, according to Cherichello.
Regular hours for the Hazlet Library have resumed:
Mondays and Wednesdays: 1 to 9 p.m.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fridays: 1- 5 p.m.
Programing at the library will resume in May. Childrens story times will be held:
-- For Babies, 10 to 23 months: Tuesdays, May 3, 10 and 17 at 9:45 a.m.
-- For Toddlers, 2-3 years: Thursdays, May 5, 12 and 19 at 10 a.m.
-- For Pre-School, 3 to 5 years: Tuesdays, May 3, 10 and 17 at 2 p.m.; or Thursdays, May 5, 12 and 19 at 11:30 a.m.
-- For School-Age, Grades K and up: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:15 p.m.
A special music program for toddlers will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, May 19! Join us for a fun-filled segment of making music with percussion instruments. Dance and sing along to familiar toddler tunes right after the regular story time.
In addition, a teen program, Intro to Hip Hop Dancing, is scheduled for Saturday, May 7 from 2 to 3 p.m., and is open to all teens in grades 6 and up. Please register at library.
All Monmouth County Library branches, including Hazlet, will be closed on Good Friday, April 22, and Easter Sunday, April 24.
For more information, please call the Hazlet Library at 732-264-7164.
April 21, 2011
Magazzu comes out in favor of county library; decision from state could greatly affect Cumberland County budget
April 20, 2011
Freeholder Lou Magazzu Tuesday night stated he will not vote for a budget that closes the Cumberland County Library this year.
Magazzu even requested the freeholders table the whole possibility of closing the library, though for this year only, stating he had never before seen such an outpouring of resident concern over a single issue.
However, he later rescinded his request after Freeholder Director Bill Whelan asked that the board’s finance committee be allowed to continue working through the issue.
“I do think that regionalization is the solution to all this,” said Magazzu. “This has been an extensive conversation — and it involved some negative comments (toward the library). it’s both sides.
“But this outcry for the library has been more than anything I’ve seen as a freeholder. I would want closing the library tabled, out of the budget, for this year. Next year could be a different story, though.”
He withdrew the request at the behest of Whelan, who said the finance committee, made up of himself and freeholders Carl Kirstein and Tom Sheppard, is still waiting for some crucial information from the state.
“There is still a question with the (New Jersey Department of Community Affairs) that changes the whole ball game with regard to the budget,” said Whelan Tuesday night, during the boards work session.
“I ask that you allow the finance committee to continue working, which we have a meeting in a couple of days.”
Much of the Tuesday night work session’s public comment period was taken up by residents urging the freeholders to keep the Cumberland County Library open.
Two residents advocated closing it to closing the current budget deficit.
The freeholders are expected to come to a decision either way by Tuesday, April 26, which is the date Whelan has stated the board will bring the 2011 budget to a vote.
April 19, 2011
Ribbon is cut on Ramsey library's $2.5M renovation
April 18, 2011
BY BARBARA BOUCICAUT
Ramsey Suburban News
Of Suburban News
RAMSEY - A new life emerged within an old building, as the community celebrated the grand opening of the newly renovated library on Saturday, April 16.
The revitalized 40-year-old space - enhanced to support today's technology - played host to library and borough officials and members of the community who all agreed: The $2.5 million renovation is impressive.
"This is absolutely stunning," said Councilwoman Vanessa Jachzel.
"This hall, with the light and the trees, is beautiful," said Board of Education trustee Claudia Monteith, gesturing toward the décor in center of the library, which includes raised potted plants. "It has a calming influence."
As visitors quietly toured the new space, teens and children gathered in their separate reading rooms, visible through glass walls.
In the quiet reading room, which faces Wyckoff Avenue, and features magazines and special acoustic ceiling tiles and flooring, a man sat reading a newspaper.
Borough residents Victor and Dorothy Sakal, who formerly lived in the borough, contributed funds to develop the reading room.
"We are beyond delighted," said library director Wendy Bloom who, prior to the ribbon-cutting thanked the library board, past and present borough officials, several organizations and individuals she said were instrumental in bringing the renovations to fruition. "The commitment of this borough and residents to this library is just wonderful."
Bloom specifically thanked the borough's Junior Women's Club, Women's Club, Friends of the Ramsey Library, the Ramsey Area Garden Club and the library's volunteers.
The groups and individuals, she said, believe in libraries and denied the notion that libraries are no longer relevant.
"It's all about the community that supports this library," she said.
Construction on the 14,000-square-foot building began last year. Wireless connectivity and double-glazed windows also were incorporated.
"It's a community effort, and we're excited to open a library of the future to our residents," Mayor Christopher Botta said after cutting the red ribbon. "It's such a community resource all our residents can be proud of."
According to Tom Dater, the borough's first library was established in 1908 by Anna Dater, his grandmother, and members of a public service group. Tom Dater later served as president of the library board when the current library was built in 1968.
As he stood near one of the library's book shelves, Dater said that when the library was built it represented the "top of the line." But, he joked, the space needed a "good dusting and cleaning."
"I think they did a wonderful, wonderful job," he said.
Library board president Emily Rennie said the architect opened up the space, and now visitors can see the entire library from all directions.
"I'm feeling great," Rennie said. "I feel like I can leave and my mission's accomplished."
The grand opening entailed special events throughout the day, including entertainment by Stretch the Silly Man, which Bloom called a "sure-fire favorite" at the library, as well as a theatrical reading and balloon sculptor.
April 18, 2011
Margaret E. Heggan Free Public Library in Washington nears completion of move, upgrade
Monday, April 11, 2011
By Jessica Beym
WASHINGTON TWP. The Margaret E. Heggan Free Public Library is just a week or two away from moving into its new home.
The former Education and Information Resource Center on Delsea Drive no longer looks like its old self on the inside.
The walls have been painted bright, pastel blues and greens. The carpets have been installed. And the new dark, wooden doors are going in.
Aside from a few finishing touches, like security cameras and electrical work, the building is nearly ready to be filled with thousands of books, shelves, computers and eventually people.
"People are getting really excited," said Library Director Kim Rinaldi. "They want to know when we're closing, and more importantly when we're opening."
Rinaldi said the current library, located just around the corner on East Holly Avenue in a cramped, 10,000-square-foot building, will close the first week of May. The library staff will use that month to move all of its materials and furniture into the new building, in time for the grand opening scheduled for June 18.
In the meantime, library go-ers are invited to use their cards at any other library in Gloucester County, such as the libraries in nearby Pitman or Monroe Township, Rinaldi suggested.
While the month they are closed will seem like a while, Rinaldi said it's necessary to get set up and train the staff in the new, much-larger 20,000-square-foot building.
The library board is paying for the $2.1 million building through a lease-purchase agreement approved by the township council. Using about $1.7 million in surplus funds and the library's annual tax allotment, the board will be paying for the library and the cost of renovations and new supplies without borrowing money or asking for more money from the taxpayers.
"It's going to be great," Rinaldi said as she showed off the renovations. "We feel very stifled. There's a lot of things we want to do, but then we say we don't have anywhere to do it."
Children's programming at the Heggan Library has long been a popular feature, but with only one multi-purpose room used for meetings, activities and study time scheduling programs can be difficult, Rinaldi said.
Usually, children events are held before the library even opens, so those who are reading or using the computers aren't distracted by the noise. Soon, the children's coordinator won't have to fight for a time slot. The kids will have their own, bright and spacious room in the center of the library.
The kids area is surrounded on three sides by large glass windows, giving the library an open feeling, and letting the parents view their kids from other parts of the library. The kids will also have their own meeting space and bathroom.
Outside the children's area to the left of the entrance will be the teen section and a computer-lounge area with hi-top tables and magazines. The entire building will have Wi-Fi as well, Rinaldi said.
To the right of the main entrances, patrons will find a small alcove for a store dedicated to the Friends of the Margaret E. Heggan Library. There, they can sell books that are currently scattered on tables throughout the library.
The right side of the building will also have a large reference desk, dedicated computer room, doors to the two meeting rooms and access to three study rooms.
"Right now we only have one (study room) and people fight over it," Rinaldi said.
The meeting space has a room divider to allow for two events at once, or one larger meeting. Each side of the room has its own sink, Rinaldi noted.
The front entrance to the library also veers off to a short corridor, for those who are heading right to a meeting and don't need to walk through the main library. The hallway will also serve as a gallery with local art, and benches for patrons to come sit and use their cell phones, Rinaldi said.
"It's going to allow us to do so much more," Rinaldi said, pointing to the meeting rooms and spacious floor plan throughout the new library. "There's so much space. We're really excited."
April 15, 2011
Jersey City City Council members ask for restoration of proposed $300,000 library cut
April 14, 2011,
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal The Jersey Journal
A group of Jersey City City Council members today said they would not support Mayor Jerramiah Healy's proposed $477 million 2011 municipal budget unless he restored a roughly $300,000 cut to the Jersey City Free Public Library.
For the past three City Council meetings, numerous residents have pleaded with the council not to implement the cut, saying it would lead to library closures and more reduced hours.
The council members seeking a restoration of proposed library cuts include Councilman David Donnelly, Councilman Steven Fulop, Councilwoman Nidia Lopez and Councilwoman Viola Richardson.
Their joint statement came after last night's admission by Business Administrator Jack Kelly that the city is expecting additional revenue that it did not include in the municipal budget, including an $800,000 Medicaid reimbursement.
"It was clear to me that that money could be used to restore the Jersey City Public Library staff and programs," Richardson said.
Fulop, a frequent administration critic, said Kelly's comments last night showed the administration is not being "forthright with the taxpayers."
"On one hand they are harboring a secret slush fund not included in the budget, while at the same time dramatically cutting funding for essential functions like the library," Fulop said.
City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said today there is "no hidden revenue in the budget."
"The correct information is that what was referenced to at the City Council meeting is known as 'Miscellaneous Revenue Not Anticipated'," Morrill said. "This year, we know that there is at least one MRNA, which is a Medicare Part D refund. At this time, we have not included that in the budget as we do not know the exact dollar amount but are estimating it to be approximately $800,000."
About funding for the library, she said:
"We will review their request and if additional revenue is generated we will evaluate the ability to restore services that have been cut, including the library, while keeping taxes flat."
April 14, 2011
It's not your parents' library anymore! Warren County Library System reflects 21st century
April 09, 2011
By Sheila Abrams
BELVIDERE — It’s no secret that modern technology has revolutionized many aspects of daily life, even for people who are not particularly computer-savvy. But few traditional institutions have felt the impact of electronic technology as much as libraries. The public library is still a place where you can borrow a book. But it is so much more!
With four locations spanning the county, the Warren County Library System has transformed itself, over a period of more than 30 years, into a facility that uses modern media and technology to fulfill patrons’ needs for information as well as recreation. In many cases, going to the library can mean logging on from a home computer without even setting foot into a bricks-and-mortar library building.
In a recent interview with The Warren Reporter, Maureen Baker Wilkinson, the director of the Warren County Library System, explained that many aspects of the library’s circulation process can begin at home. Using a personal computer, a patron can access the library’s catalog, search for the desired material, determine its availability and place a hold. A trip to the library, of course, is needed to collect the book.
But even that is not always the case. The library also offers electronic or “e-books” which can be downloaded to a home computer or an electronic reading device. These include audio-books which can be listened to on the patron’s own listening device. Wilkinson said that downloadable music will also be available from the library in the near future.
The presence of computers in the libraries is not new, and library staff members are often called upon to help users negotiate the Internet. “Because of space constraints,” Wilkinson said, “we haven’t been able to do too much with providing formal instruction in computer use. But we do have a mobile computer lab.
“Many adults use the library’s Internet access to look for jobs. And these days,” Wilkinson said, “job applications are often made on line as well.” Libraries in the county system have wireless access, and patrons sometimes bring their own laptops to use in the library.
In addition to books, the library offers many other kinds of media, like CDs and DVDs, and even video games. And the library has access to data bases that offer research materials on a multitude of subjects. Thanks to computers, the Warren County Library System has available more material through data bases than could ever be housed in a single building: newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, journals, reference books, legal forms and more. A visit to the library’s website, warrenlib.com, opens up a world of material to the reader.
Wilkinson commented on the amazing affinity of very young patrons for electronic devices. The library has many programs aimed at children and young adults. TumbleBooks and TumbleReaders are devices with which children can listen to books while reading along. The Early Literacy Station offers educational software that encourages and fosters reading in children as young as two years old.
To keep users tuned into what is going on at the library, there is a monthly newsletter and a weekly one called the Wowbrary, which keeps patrons up to date on recent acquisitions and library happenings. There are also online book clubs, which enable users to sample one or two chapters of selected books to decide if they want to read them. These include fiction, romance, science fiction, mysteries, thrillers and more.
The Warren County Library locations are in Belvidere, Independence Township, Blairstown and Franklin Township. The Northeast Branch in Independence Township is currently at 63 Route 46, about a mile past the Hackettstown’s downtown area. On May 21, it will move to a brand new facility across Route 46, the former Best’s Fruit Farm market. The public is invited to come and visit the new facility.
For more information about the Warren County Library System, visit warrenlib.com. The phone number at the Headquarters Branch in Belvidere is 908-475-6322.
April 12, 2011
Students fight for county library
April 09, 2011
By Lauren T. Taniguchi
HOPEWELL TWP. - Hopewell Crest seventh-graders Lewie Homan and Austin Billings refuse to let the Cumberland County Library be closed without a fight.
Homan and Billings took to the streets to collect signatures against the proposed closing after hearing the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders named the library as a use of county funds to be cut at its budget introduction on March 15.
"This library is one of the nicest things in the county," Homan said. "We're trying to keep it so kids can come here for school and have fun on their own time. It helps in their futures."
The young men, who have been best friends since first grade, began going door-to-door in their shared Hopewell Township neighborhood this week, offering Tootsie Rolls to petition signers. They also got their teachers at Hopewell Crest to sign and solicited the help of Billings mother, Pam Simpkins, to collect signatures at West Cumberland Little League.
"During the week, they sometimes go around after school and normally go out after dinner," Simpkins said. "Austin gets mad because he has to come home and eat dinner; they're all excited about it."
Three pages of signatures now total approximately 150 supporters of keeping the county library open, and Homan and Billings hope to have at least five pages of signatures to present to the freeholders at the board's next meeting.
"Hopefully they will keep it here forever - until we have children, and our children have children, and our children's children have children, so they can all enjoy it," said Billings, who tentatively plans to attend college in Florida and return to the area for a career in a family business. "This is basically our home right here."
The two students are driven by Homan's grandmother, June Leib, to the county library once a week on average, at their request. Although they also use the library for entertainment at times, both credit the library and its staff as a vital academic resource in the community and say it's important to kids, adults and even college students with other options.
"I know a Rutgers student who comes here in his free time," said Homan, noting many Cumberland County College students also likely use the county library instead of the college's facility due to location, resources and environment. "It's nice and clean and well-organized."
For a recent science project requiring a four-page research paper with full bibliography, cover and illustrations, Billings used the library to learn about sharks. Homan expressed gratitude to the library's friendly staff for "taking 20 minutes out of their time" to help him research rainforests for the same project.
"I was failing seventh-grade language arts, and I gave a book report that was a biography on Ray Charles and raised my F to a B," Homan added. "My teacher was stunned by my improvement."
The students also acknowledged that for many in the Bridgeton area, the library is more than just a luxury.
"A lot of people don't have printers or copiers at home, but here they can pay 10 cents per page," said Homan. "Closing the library would inconvenience people without computers or books at home. They want to close it because of the budget, but this is the best library in town; it has a lot more variety here for all ages and has a good location for the community. It's nice that everyone's welcome."
Judge asks for more information in suit challenging transfer of Somerville library to county system
Apr. 11, 2011
STEPHEN REED,STAFF WRITER
SOMERVILLE — A lawsuit arguing that the Borough Council wrongly voted to meld the municipal library into the county library system is still winding its way through the courts, and lawyers for both sides appeared before a judge Monday to present their cases.
Superior Court Judge Yolanda Ciccone ordered the borough to file more information by May 20, participants said.
The attorney for Rande Aaronson, a former president of the library board of directors who filed the suit in September, then has until June 20 to file a response. Another hearing the in library suit will follow those filings.
Ciccone wanted more information about a state statute cited by Michael Shapanka, Aaronson's attorney, participants said. Shapanka's case relies on two laws that he says require local control of the library — and its continued support with municipal taxes.
"She was trying to clarify what the issues are, as opposed to getting rid of — my words — the fluff within the case," said Mayor Brian Gallagher, who attended Monday's hearing.
Shapanka has asked the court to void the borough's actions that made the library a branch of the county system. He also has asked the court to require the borough and county to "unwind" the existing agreement.
The suit asserts that the borough must hold a public referendum if it wants to put an end to the municipal library as an independent institution. The library was created by public referendum in 1912.
The library began operating as a branch of the county library system in January, and the employees have joined the county payroll. Library taxes now are assessed separately from municipal taxes on residents' tax bills.
The borough voted to make the financially struggling library a county branch after a special task force found that doing so would save taxpayers money — a finding that Aaronson has disputed.
Herb Hall, the president of the library board of directors — which continues to exist to administer about $500,000 in library assets for the improvement of the library — said the hearing showed that greater clarity is needed in state law.
The governor and Legislature should update library laws to meet today's technological and financial challenges, he said.
"Failure to do that means protracted court proceedings will continue in Somerville and elsewhere," Hall said.
Although Aaronson said he filed the case only to settle a local issue, he said it now stands to have a wider impact.
"It has turned into a case that is significant for the future of libraries in the state of New Jersey," he said.
Stephen Reed: 908-243-6609; firstname.lastname@example.org
April 11, 2011
Local libraries get autism materials from foundation
April 11, 2011
By HARVY LIPMAN
RECORD COLUMNIST Libraries across the state, including 19 in North Jersey, have some new resources to offer visitors interested in learning more about autism, thanks to the Karma Foundation and Autism Speaks.
The kits offer a range of information on topics such as autism diagnoses and therapies, resources available to parents and how to deal with a child’s school system.
"It goes from things as simple as what is autism to treatment options," said Dina Karmazin Elkins, executive director of the foundation. She added that distributing material through public libraries is a longstanding focus of the non-profit.
"Libraries are one of the places people forget about, but they’re free and they distribute a lot of information," Elkins noted. "They also give you the option of having access to material no matter what your income or socioeconomic status. And unlike the Internet, there’s somebody there who can help you find information that’s accurate."
There’s one other driving force behind the foundation’s support for libraries, she added:
"Our president and founder, Sharon Karmazin, was the library director in East Brunswick for many years."
North Jersey library directors said they’re appreciative of the donations, especially since this is Autism Awareness Month and many of them will be able to use the kits in their information displays.
Cynthia Czesak, director of the Paterson Public Library, noted that Patricia Bagley, co-chairwoman of the Northern New Jersey Walk Now for Autism Speaks, will make a presentation at the library Tuesday.
"She’ll be distributing information to parents to help get people aware of the support services available for autism," Czesak said. "It’s nice when we’re talking with people to be able to say, ‘and we have this information here for you.’ "
The Paramus Public Library is using the newly donated material as part of a display for Autism Awareness Month in its children’s section.
"We do have many families affected by autism in our area," said library Director Leonard LoPinto. While the library gets a limited number of requests for educational materials on autism, he added, "If people know this type of material is available, I’m sure we’ll get more requests. And it’s not just for the families of children with autism. It’s to have everyone else be aware of the condition, too."
Wendy Bloom, director of the Ramsey Free Public Library, said her staff hasn’t been able to put together a display of the autism materials because they’ve just moved back into the renovated library building.
"But our children’s librarian is planning an evening program on autism later in the month," Bloom said. "Autism statistically affects a high percentage of children in New Jersey and we are asked often for material. The Karma Foundation helps us keep our material current."
Elkins said the foundation has another distribution of training materials set for next month, when they will be sent to schools across New Jersey. So far, 110 have signed up, including 18 in North Jersey.
"They will have information for everybody from teachers to bus drivers to the school janitors on how to talk to an autistic child, how to react if you see certain behaviors," Elkins explained.
State of America's Libraries Report 2011
Job-seekers, entrepreneurs continue to turn to their local library for help: State of America's Libraries Report 2011
CHICAGO - The Great Recession may have come to an end, but hard-pressed Americans continue to turn to their local libraries for help in finding a job or launching their own business.
This and other library trends of the past year are detailed in the State of America’s Libraries, 2011, released during National Library Week, April 10-16, 2011, by the American Library Association.
Even as budget-cutters take aim at libraries and their services, more than two-thirds of the 1,000-plus adults contacted in a survey in January said that the library’s assistance in starting a business or finding a job was important to them, according to the poll, conducted for the American Library Association (ALA) by Harris Interactive.
Sixty-five percent of those polled said they had visited the library in the past year; women are significantly more likely than men (72 percent vs. 58 percent) to fall into this category, especially working women, working mothers and women aged 18-54. Overall, 58 percent of those surveyed said they had a library card, and the largest group was, again, women, especially working women and working mothers. College graduates and those with a household income of more than $100,000 were also well represented among card holders, according to the survey.
Thirty-one percent of adults rank the library at the top of their list of tax-supported services, and a study conducted in Philadelphia shows that their taxes are in fact well spent. The University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government conducted an economic impact study of the Free Library of Philadelphia that provided bottom-line evidence that the return on investment in library service more than justifies the costs.
The study concludes that the library created more than $30 million worth of economic value to the city in fiscal 2010 and that it had a particularly strong impact on business development and employment. It also showed that homes located within a quarter-mile of a branch library were worth an average of $9,630 more than homes outside that radius, an indication that the presence of a library is associated with larger real estate tax revenues.
Nevertheless, media reports of cuts and cutbacks to library budgets and services abounded in 2010 and early this year. U.S. mayors reported in November that hours, staff or services at local libraries was the No. 2 budget area that been cut, second only to maintenance and services at parks and gardens. And another study indicated that 19 states reported cuts in funding for public libraries from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2011 and that more than half said the cuts were greater than 10 percent. That study also found that state cuts often were compounded by cuts at the local level.
Other key trends detailed in the 2011 State of America’s Libraries Report:
The availability of wireless Internet in public libraries is approaching 85 percent, and about two-thirds of them extend wireless access outside the library. Computer usage at public libraries continues to increase.
Almost all academic libraries offer e-books, as do more than two-thirds of public libraries. For most libraries, e-books are only still a small percentage of circulated items – but represent the fastest-growing segment.
A battle over the future of widely used e-books was joined in March, when HarperCollins announced that it will not allow its e-books to be checked out from a library more than 26 times, raising the possibility that e-books that are not repurchased would be available at the library for only about a year.
Students and faculty are using academic libraries more than ever. During a typical week, academic libraries had more than 31 million searches in electronic databases, answered 469,000 reference questions and made 12,000 group presentations. At the same time, many academic libraries are grappling with budget reductions and subsequent restructuring.
U.S. libraries of all types continue to make increasing use of social media and Web 2.0 applications and tools to connect with library users and to market programs and services. Facebook, Twitter and blogging tools are the favorites.
Taxpayers entrusted libraries with their tax dollars by approving 87 percent of operating measures on ballots across the country.
Libraries, bookstores and individuals nationwide continue to battle censorship, and thousands of people read from banned or challenged books during Banned Books Week (Sept. 25–Oct. 2, 2010). Leading the Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books published annually by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom were "And Tango Makes Three" (by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson), "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (by Sherman Alexie), and Aldous Huxley’s "Brave New World," which has been stimulating would-be censors almost continuously since its publication – in 1932.
School expenditures on information resources decreased 9.4 percent from the previous year. Nevertheless, the average number of hours school library staff spent each week delivering instruction continued to increase (0.5 hours more than in 2009, for a total of 15 hours).
The library profession continues its efforts to make its ranks more accessible to minorities and to strengthen its outreach efforts to underserved populations. The ALA’s Spectrum Scholarship Program, for example, awarded 75 scholarships in 2010 to members of underrepresented groups to help them pursue master’s degrees. And the Family Literacy Focus initiative, launched by 2009-2010 ALA President Camila Alire, encourages families in ethnically diverse communities to read and learn together.
To turn children into lifelong readers, libraries are building spaces as creative and playful as their youngest patrons. And those spaces are becoming greener: Environmental sustainability continues to gain the attention of library designers, with a number of new libraries certified under the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program.
The library community is both struggling to keep up with the digital revolution –– and envisioning a future that incorporates new philosophies, technologies and spaces to meet all users’ needs more effectively. As one analyst notes, the changes “go beyond merely incorporating technological advances to include rethinking the very core of what defines a library — [a] sense of place, of service, and of community.”
The full text of The State of America’s Libraries, 2011, is available at http://tinyurl.com/alasalr2011.
April 7, 2011
Save the library
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Editorial: The Record
ELECTED OFFICIALS in the borough of Northvale decided recently that they couldn't find money in the budget to keep the public library open. Since Northvale's is an independent library and not a municipal one, the mayor and council are not compelled to fund it. So they opted not to.
We believed this to be a terrible mistake, and a short-sighted approach to municipal management. The borough leaders said, in essence, that they wished they could make the financial contribution, but if there's no money, there's no money. We understood the quandary, but were disappointed in the lack of resourcefulness and budgetary imagination.
Town officials have since put a new proposal on the table that, while not ideal, is a good middle ground: a voter referendum to exceed the 2 percent cap on the tax levy.
At tonight's meeting at Borough Hall, the mayor and council are slated to discuss the referendum's wording, as well as the amount to be voted on, Staff Writer Denisa R. Superville reports. They will also introduce the municipal budget.
We urge residents to attend and to keep up with the deliberations. If the referendum goes to voters, it will appear on the same ballot as the school board candidates during the April 27 school board elections.
Officials are considering asking voters to approve $500,000. For a house assessed at the borough average of approximately $385,000, that would add $228.27 to the municipal tax bill. The half-million dollars is not just for the library, but also to provide a financial cushion for the borough. Right now, there is hardly anything extra in the coffers in case of an emergency.
Nearly every family is struggling to live within its own tight budget these days. Many things that were once necessities are now luxuries. We understand that an extra couple hundred dollars on the tax bill is hardly welcome. But the amount breaks down to $4.39 a week. For both the library and an emergency surplus. That seems quite reasonable.
Borough librarians were taken by surprise, they say, when several weeks ago they were told the lending library would get no money this year. Northvale residents have been able to borrow books — and, later, magazines and videos — since 1957. If the library closes, borrowers will be locked out of the 38,000 items housed in the building, as well as the 10 million items available to them through the Bergen County Cooperative Library System, which runs a crackerjack inter-library loan program.
In order for Northvale Public Library to keep its BCCLS membership, the town is required by the cooperative library system to fund the local library at a certain rate. Last year, it came out to $337,000, but the town got back $87,000 in rent and other expenses. This year the library needs about $336,000, but could pay back the town again and run on $250,000. It is the second-lowest funding amount among the 75 member libraries. Yet Northvale patrons are avid borrowers, making their library card the ninth-most-highly used.
The worst-case scenario would be that the Northvale library closed. Library patrons could buy a membership at surrounding libraries, but they would not be able to participate in inter-library loans, and they would pay from at least $100 to $400 a year.
The answer is clear. For little more than a large caffe latte a week, the public library — an unsung hero of a thriving democracy — stays open. Hold the referendum and keep the Northvale Public Library alive.
April 6, 2011
Libraries break out
Thursday, March 31, 2011
The Record- Editorial
PROPERTY TAX bills will have a new line item, and, in this case, it’s a good thing. Towns will now break out the amount paid toward their municipal or joint public libraries in the same way other towns provide a separate line for their contributions to county libraries. The law was signed by Governor Christie last week.
Library funding is a very small part of a municipal tax bill. Residents will see this clearly with the new layout. But local libraries’ diminutive cost relative to schools, police and the rest, belies their outsized contribution to their communities. They are community center, coffee klatch, job center, classroom and newsstand rolled into one. They provide a safe place for children after school, and a space for adults to relax during the day. Some host free tax preparers for older adults. Others host English classes for their newest residents. A public library is a concrete expression of civic values. And separating its cost from the general tax levy will drive home its bang for the buck.
This is not an extra tax. But how it gets its own line on your tax bill is somewhat complicated. Local public libraries must be funded according to a state formula relating to assessed property value. That won’t change. But to have a distinct line, the library funding will be removed from its place in a municipality’s general fund — the part held to the 2 percent property tax cap. If a town wants to give its library more money than it’s required to allocate, that extra portion will be included in the general fund and will be subject to the cap.
New Milford has decided to go this route, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes reports. It must allocate approximately $659,000 to the library. It wants to give nearly $681,000. So the $22,000 difference will be folded into the general budget and count toward the 2 percent ceiling.
The Northvale Public Library, which is fighting for its life at the moment, will not reap the benefits of the new law, unfortunately. It is an association library and not funded the same way.
Adding libraries to the list of enumerated services on tax bills takes away the mystery of how much they cost each homeowner, and keeps alive the idea that libraries are a crucial part of a community.
Tax cap referendum could save Northvale library
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Last updated: Thursday March 31, 2011, 5:55 PM
BY DENISA R. SUPERVILLE
NORTHVALE — The borough plans to ask voters at the school board election to allow it to exceed the 2 percent tax levy cap in a bid to keep the town library open, officials said Wednesday.
The resolution’s language and the amount by which the borough plans to exceed the cap will be considered at a special meeting April 7. The 2011 municipal budget will be introduced at that meeting, Mayor Paul Bazela said.
Council President Ed Piehler and Council Finance liaison Patrick Marana said the question could ask voters to approve $500,000 more than the borough is allowed to raise under new legislation that limits the percentage by which municipalities can increase taxes.
The ballot question would not specifically mention the library, officials said. It would, however, describe the major revenue losses and appropriation increases that necessitated the referendum question.
Democrats, who swept into office in January and had criticized the prior Republican-led administration for using one-time revenues fixes in the budget, said this was different.
“The objective here is not to request another $500,000 from the taxpayers and spend it all this year,” Marana said. “It’s to manage the budget, provide some library funding and put the rest of it into surplus.”
The additional $500,000 will result in an extra $228.27 in municipal taxes on a home assessed at $386,900, the borough average, Marana said.
If voters approve the ballot question, the borough will be able to adopt a budget at its May 10. If the question fails, the borough will have to amend the budget by making cuts or removing non-property-tax-generated revenues to comply with the cap.
Funding for the library, which is independent, as opposed to a municipal library, was eliminated this year after borough officials said the borough did not have the $335,569.30 needed for the library to participate in the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.
The state requires a minimum funding level for municipal libraries; it does not do so for independent library associations.
The borough was facing the constraints of a 2 percent tax levy cap and a $1 million deficit, officials said.
The decision to place the referendum on the ballot for the April 27 school board election was made recently, borough officials said. The Library Board of Trustees was notified during a meeting Tuesday when both sides met to discuss the library’s future funding, Bazela said.
“I am worried for them,” he said. “This is do or die at this referendum. It’s not good.”
Robert Alfonso, the library board president, said Wednesday he supports asking residents to vote on the matter.
Alfonso said there is strong support for the library, and many residents have requested “Save Our Library” signs for their lawns. The borough library has the second-lowest funding level among all 75 BCCLS members, but the ninth-highest usage, he said.
“We are for the referendum and for putting it to the residents of Northvale,” Alfonso said. “Here is it. Here is your library. Do you see the value in it? Vote.”
Councilman Roy Sokoloski said Wednesday that borough officials have been working to save the library.
The mayor and council members have talked to legislators about changing the library funding formula and even contacted Rockland County officials to inquire whether Northvale residents could use the Library Association of Rockland County, Sokoloski and Piehler said.
“We, as the mayor and council, don’t want to see the library closed,” Sokoloski said. “We really don’t. We want a library in this town, and we will help them in any way we can.”
Borough officials have asked the library to come up with ways to stay afloat. The library still needs to be financially transparent, Piehler said.
Alfonso said that he knows the referendum will not solve the library’s problems, and that the board is already working on ways to keep it going beyond the referendum. One avenue might be to form a library support group, which could focus on fundraising, he said.
Bazela, a former school board member, said he is worried that the referendum question could hurt the library and the school district because of historically low turnout for school board elections.
Northvale Schools Superintendent Bert Ammerman said he did not think the school district’s budget would be affected, because it calls for a $14 tax increase on a home assessed at the borough average.
“I am not worried, because I think your average citizen is going to look at that and say, “Wow, you really did a prudent job.”
Municipalities that want to exceed the 2 percent cap must introduce their budgets by April 8 and send the accompanying resolutions to the County Clerk’s office by the same date.
Those towns also must to publish a notice by March 7, informing voters that mail-in ballots for a possible referendum are available at the clerk’s office. Northvale’s notice was published in The Record on March 10, three days after the deadline.
Borough Attorney Gregg Paster said that the borough tried to comply with the publication date.
“The borough made diligent efforts to comply with the statutory regulations,” he said. “We have not heard anything from Community Affairs that would lead us to believe that we are out of compliance.”
Lisa Ryan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Community Affairs, said that the matter should be addressed to the Division of Election and that the DCA was consulting with the agency.
Shawn Crisafulli, a spokesman for the Division of Elections said via e-mail that “there is nothing in the statute that would require the cancellation of the referendum election at this point based on the publication issue.”
April 5, 2011
Officials fear new law's impact on LBI library
April 4, 2011
by Stephanie Loder
BEACH HAVEN — Visitors enjoy the small, historic municipal library here, but officials say they fear newly adopted state funding legislation could change residents' opinions.
The legislation, approved two weeks ago in Trenton, takes away municipal funding for libraries that are not part of a county system. The Beach Haven library is the only one of its kind in southern Ocean County, and the legislation has officials worried.
"We've been thrown a curve ball," said Richard Crane, the borough's manager. "Normally we carry a surplus that covers the library. It's all done by a formula. Any money for salaries is included. We have always been in charge of the library."
The law, signed by Gov. Chris Christie, creates a dedicated line on a property tax bill for funding municipal libraries. It also makes the money exempt from the state's new two percent cap on annual spending increases.
"Now the library won't be under our direct management," Crane said. "It will be independent."
Robert Buckley, president of the library's board of directors, said he hadn't heard of the legislation, but said it seemed like another way for government to get involved.
"Right now, there's nothing on the tax bills that shows what the library costs," Buckley said. "Now, taxpayers will see it costs $250 per family and all the people who don't use the library will say, "Why do we need this'? "
Buckley said if the library were to close because taxpayers didn't want to fund it, the building and its contents would revert back to the original owners.
According to the library website, in 1923, Mrs. Walter Pharo presented the board of the library with a proposal to build a new library for the town at her own expense. The library was constructed in memory of her husband's parents, Archelaus Ridgway Pharo and Louisa Willits Pharo — the founders of Beach Haven — and of her late husband Walter.
Mayor Charles Maschal said residents "love" their local municipal library because it is convenient and offers advantages such as computers and a large selection of books, as well as other programs.
"We don't know what to make of this legislation just yet. It's so new, and nobody seemed to know it was coming," Maschal said. "We haven't even gotten the budget finished because it sent us scrambling."
Crane called the library a focal point of the community.
"All towns like Beach Haven that have their own public libraries have kept them because it's part of the history and tradition of town," Crane said. "Now, to have it out under more the state's regulation, it's going to be problematic. We're concerned any time the state tries to exert more influence over our own independent libraries."
Crane said the community set aside "a very small portion of the budget," about $500,000 annually for the library.
He said the borough hasn't been notified of all the details about the legislation.
"It seems they passed the law but haven't promulgated all of the rules for how they are going to do this," Crane said. "So that's why its confusing. We are not sure how we are going to do this. That's why we're not rushing to complete our budget."
For fiscal year 2012, Crane said, "Beach Haven will not be budgeting any money for the public library."
"It will be raised through a separate library tax that will appear on everybody's tax bill," Crane said. "Everything was working nicely here, and we're hoping it will continue to keep working that way."
Buckley was not as optimistic.
"People are going to know directly how much money gets put into the budget for the library," Buckley said. "I'm sure there's a lot of people who would like to make an issue of that and see the library close."
April 4, 2011
Library funding law highlights importance of Gloucester County sites
Monday, April 04, 2011
By Rebecca Forand
A new law brings funding for municipal libraries out of a town's budget and onto a separate line on a taxpayer's bill, putting them on a more even ground with municipalities that support a county library system.
The Municipal Library Tax Levy Law, which was signed by Gov. Chris Christie March 22, not only creates a new line on property tax bills, it also exempts library funding from the state's 2 percent cap on spending increases.
Proponents of the law believe that it brings county and municipal libraries fiscal parity and transparency regarding library funding.
"It's now neutral to all the municipalities," said Pat Tumulty, executive director of the New Jersey Library Association. "This is not a new tax. It's just a new way of representing it. We think it's a very positive piece of legislation."
For residents in the 10 Gloucester County towns that have free municipal libraries and do not participate in the Gloucester County Library System, the percentage of their taxes that go toward their respective town's libraries will remain the same. Now, it will simply be reflected on its own line on the tax bills.
"There will be a better understanding and explanation for the taxpayers," said Denise Saia, Franklin Township's library director. "I think a lot of times the taxpayers don't understand exactly how the money is being spent. It's important that they do see that."
For Woodbury Mayor Harry Riskie, this transparency could have another perk for the town's library increased usership.
He believes that if people see right on their bills what they are paying for, it might entice them to check out the resources that are right around the corner.
"I think it will encourage more people to use it," he said. "Our library is very good and it's a popular place. With the age of computers, more people should take advantage of what's in our libraries."
Besides a dedicated line of the tax bills, this legislation also removes library funding from a municipality's operating budget, therefore exempting it from the 2 percent cap.
This decision has been met with opposing opinions.
For Woodbury's former mayor, Robert Curtis, exempting it from the cap lets municipalities keep some other services that might have to be cut to remain under the cap.
"Anything they can take out of the cap helps the town," he said. "The whole idea of the cap is ridiculous. It's crazy that they just pick an arbitrary number somewhere for everyone in the state."
But for Washington Township Council President Chris Del Borello, taking the library funding out of the cap defeats the purpose of having a cap to begin with.
"If we keep adding exemptions, it's like going backwards," he said.
On Friday, an amendment to the new law was also introduced that would include independent libraries, which are not mandated to be funded, allowing them to also be exempt from the cap and ensuring they receive funding on a quarterly basis.