Full Summer Hours Coming to the Brookline Library [POLL]
Town Meeting votes to give Brookline Library $15,000 to keep the place open on Sundays throughout the summer, up from $7,000 needed to keep it open through July.
[Clarification: The Library Trustees currently plan to have the Coolidge Corner Branch Library open through July. They will debate and vote on staying open in August at an upcoming meeting. 9:21 a.m.]
Brookline Libraries are hoping to help patrons beat the heat by staying open all summer, and Town Meeting is cool with that.
At the opening evening of Town Meeting, May 22, after about an hour of discussion the Library trustees were given an extra $8,000 over what the Selectmen voted in April. The Selectmen's amendment, which would give them only $7,000 to open for the month of July was voted down, 49 to 170, with two abstaining.
This means the Library's original request for $15,000 was approved when the full fiscal 2013 budget passed unanimously shortly afterward.
Library Trustee Vice Chair John Margolis asked Town Meeting to "give us the benefit of the doubt: we know the library, we know our patrons. Let us find out what will happen; let us find out what will work."
On these Sundays, the library will be run by members of Brookline Library staff who have volunteered to work on these days. They will be paid time-and-a-half. Precinct 8 Town Meeting Member Carol Caro also explained that the Minuteman Library Network also has a "long tradition," of staff working at other libraries when asked.
Caro also noted that the idea has been popular among Jewish communities, who have not been able to use the libraries on Saturdays because of Shabbat, the traditional day of rest.
Explaining why the Selectmen had voted as they did, Selectmen Chairperson Betsy DeWitt, noted, "they may decide to stay open in August, but we believe it’s very important that the trustees make that decision. Which is why we support the original version."
Currently the Library Trustees have only firm plans to keep the Coolidge Corner Branch library open on Sundays in July, DeWitt explained.
Said Stanley Spiegel, Precinct Two Town Meeting Member, "We can’t make the decision on whether to open in August, but we have a job here as Town Meeting Members that, I believe, is listening to constituents."
He explained that the only feedback on this was in support of summer Sunday openings. Spigel added, "As Town Meeting Members, I don’t want to give up that option."
Selectman Ken Goldstein also asked about using the Library's $4 million trust fund to pay for staffing.
Library Director Chuck Flaherty explained that, while there are enough dollars in the library's accounts to cover it themselves, the Trustees do not typically use trust funds to pay for staffing. Using only library funds would require taking money from the book budget.
After this discussion, the FY 2013 budget passed with a unanimous vote. The budget was the eighth article of nine discussed last night. Discussion and voting on the rest of the 30 warrant articles for 2012, will continue Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Brookline High School Auditorium.