Library trustees ask for your support
As one of more than 100 Library volunteers, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees, I feel lucky to witness scenes like this every week. Our town's public library is abuzz with activity and energy and continues to solidify its place as the invaluable community hub it was conceived to be. The demand for services continues to increase beyond what was projected when the new building (funded at no cost to taxpayers) was constructed. It is for this reason that we are asking Manchester taxpayers this year to approve our appropriation request of $232,773. This request represents 31 percent of our operating budget, down from last year's request of 35 percent of our total budget. The library continues to perform under the close scrutiny of a Board of Trustees committed to a "no fat" operating budget, which relies on more than two thirds of our revenue to come from other sources, primarily private fundraising. And, like all public libraries in Vermont, MCL receives no funding from the state.
Of course, our community's public library offers more than 22,000 books, DVDs, audio books, and magazines in circulation, overseen by a professional staff that strives to provide the knowledge and resources our well-educated citizens expect. But our library and staff offers so much more than that. Free tech tutorials are offered to any library member to help navigate the ever-expanding digital world. Nearly 1,000 children, parents, or caregivers annually attend our twice a week story times and other activities geared to toddlers through teens.
Ten public computers in our tech center were used over 5,350 times last year by adults in the community. Our public spaces are regularly filled with free events the town, and the region, has come to rely upon, such as First Wednesdays, family concerts, PBS and classic films, foreign language conversation groups, book clubs, yoga classes, and ongoing lecture and discussion groups on timely and important issues to the community, just to name a few! Despite the modest increase in our budget to help our staff not just maintain but increase the abundance of learning, culture, and activity we provide, we rely heavily on a corps of wonderful volunteers to make it all happen. Without the assistance and dedication of these volunteers, the library would simply not be able to deliver on our mission to provide "opportunities and resources for personal enrichment and growth" to our community. Volunteers assist our staff with our daily operations, programs, special events, and fundraising efforts.
As the demand for library services increases, so does our reliance on volunteers; in fact, in 2017 volunteers logged 2,653 hours, a 20 percent increase from 2016. Volunteers provide clerical and computer support, book and materials shelving, assistance with programs for children and adults and community outreach, among a myriad of tasks. These important functions fill a critical gap between what our experienced, paid staff does and what is necessary to continue to provide a high-quality environment in the library. The library staff and board are deeply grateful for the time, service, and expertise these community members give us.
We are also grateful for the support the Manchester taxpayers have shown over the years for the library. With over 77,000 visits logged last year, we know how much our patrons rely upon and value the library and all it has to offer. But we also need your action in the voting booth to ensure the library continues to be the heart of our community. I, and my fellow Trustees, urge you to show your support by going to the polls on Tuesday, March 6 to vote "yes" on our fiscal 2019 budget request.
This commentary was Written by Kate Orme on behalf of MCL Board members Mary Blair, Renee Fishner, Martha Heilemann, Alex Heintz, Allison Mason, Linda McKeever, Linda Oskam, Dave Quesnel, Jeff Wilson and Nancy Wolf.
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