Library branches now closed

This came in as a comment on an old post from Cathy Fenton; I’m bringing it out here for better play.

Closing the North & South Grafton Branches – the powers to be have had their say and the branches are closing as of 12/31/08.
As a Trustee of Nelson Library I would like to make the public aware of a few points of interest
The only monies that comes out of the Center Library Budget for Nelson Library is salaries for the librarians and the cost of books. the library is only open 12 to 16 hours per week. We have been on the short list for new books, as many have been told that the books are unavailable at the North Grafton Branch.
The Nelson Library Budget which is roughly 38,000.00 per yer pays for the building expenses – lights heat air etc, maintenance mans salary and also pays for the maintenance of the grounds and parks of the Nelson Library Property. There are three part time retired gentlemen who maintain these grounds which have never looked better then they do now.
The Friends of Nelson Library now have approximately 12 volunteers who will keep the library open if allowed – we are trying to work something out with the Town Administrator and the “Center Library Trustees” But we need everyones help – so Michael stop shaving
Closing the Nelson Library now restricts people with disabilities from going to the Library either for some social contact or to read and check out books – ah but wait – the Center Library now has a program where they will deliver books to the “shutins” – are they using the librarians or the temps to perform this service when they could be used for what they were hired for to keep the North and South Branches open.
So attention ADA – Grafton does not have a library building which is open that can comply with some of the ADA requirements (Nelson is the most ADA compliant of the three Libraries)
The bottom line is the Center Library Trustees want a NEW Library Building – they have tried for YEARS to no avail – even tried to purchase or get the okay to purchase hazardeous contaminated land to either expand or build new -so now lets close the branches which have served the town well and – what did they say at the Selectmens meeting – the closing of the branches will put an added burden on the Center so does that mean hire more staff – and oh yes Hilding wants a bigger office and now a meeting room. Where is that money coming from – Hilding better start lifting weights to carry all those who are unable to get up the stairs to use the Center Library – how else will they get into the building?

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9 thoughts on “Library branches now closed

  1. I certainly have some holiday growth, but I’m still planning on shaving it. Bringing ADA into this debate is a serious point though. Any municipal structure or group that is not entirely welcoming to people with any sort of disability is shameful at best, downright sinister at worst. That being said, if the Center has a plan to cope with this on a temporary basis (ie, delivery) then I think you need to accept this, and not use it as justification for keeping another library open. But if it turns out that there is no long term solution, then I think you got a point. I’d also argue that the 38k per year of savings should be earmarked explicitly for ADA compliance.

  2. It rots…plain & simple. I was so disappointed to see Nelson close. I think people are being penny wise but pound foolish.

    It’s a disgrace.

    Too bad with all these good solutions, the people we entrust to “do the right things” for our town have let us down on this one.

  3. I find it interesting that each library appears to have its own set of Trustees. I am not a resident of Grafton, but it is about the size of my town where I was a Trustee for 20 years. It didn’t go over well when we shut down two branch libraries. But in the end we were able to consolidate and then build a new building that served the needs of everyone better than three individual branches ever did. In this time of economic distress, libraries are going to be fighting for every dollar they can get from municipalities. And libraries are going to be more important than ever to their communities in that they have resources that may will have to abandon (e.g., internet access, buying books, renting movies, reading newspapers) and job searching resources. Unless I am missing something here, it would seem best to have one Board of Trustees, one library, start planning for a larger facility, utilize the underemployed by gearing up a corps of volunteers, etc. In my town there is a tax writeoff program whereby people over 62 can get a $750 tax writeoff by volunteering a couple of hours a week in town offices. There are restrictions obviously, but it is one way to get a good group of volunteers who show up regularly and do specific jobs. And a good group of Friends to serve one library and help raise needed funds is essential!

    One other comment — home delivery to those who cannot access the library is no substitute for handicapped people who WANT to get out and enjoy their library just like everyone else. No more fun that going through the stacks to find a good book or reviewing the available videos to watch.

  4. (That last commenter would be my mom)

    Mom, I’m fairly sure that Nelson has a separate group of trustees because of the Nelson trust that established both the library and the park.

    That being said — I find it amazing that almost two decades after the Americans With Disabilities Act was made law that Grafton has public buildings that are not handicapped-accessible. The town only established a disabilities commission at the fall Town Meeting.

    Back when ADA started, the Marlborough Commission on Disabilities decided to show city officials exactly what they were dealing with by arranging a wheelchair tour of downtown. The mayor, several city councilors and I think the building commissioner were given wheelchairs and the challenge of navigating Main Street — the curb cuts that were awkwardly placed, the storefronts with ramps but no way of opening doors, the ATMs placed too high, the too-steep ramp from the parking garage up to the street. It was an eye-opener for them (and a never-ending source of amusement for the photographer and me as we covered it, because I’m sure the wheelchairs they procured were the shakiest they could find) and a great example of “show, don’t tell.”

  5. The Commission on Disabilities was established at Town Meeting, a charge drafted reflecting requirements under state law, vacancies advertised…and guess what? No response. ADA compliance, education about disabilities, and providing accessible services are all critical issues that need to be addressed. That’s not to say the establishment of a Commission is the answer to the problem – but it’s one step in the right direction.

  6. The timing couldn’t be better to address the ADA issues, in light of the October 2008 Town Meeeting vote to establish a Commission on Disabilities pursuant to Mass General Laws Chapter 40, Sec 8J. Mary Ann, I’m glad you mentioned that there have not been responses to the posting. We all need to step up and act. Having accepted that provision of State Law, the committee shall include at least one elected or appointed official of Grafton. Count me in! My letter of interest to BOS will be in the mail this week. In accepting MGL 40-8J, we also accepted MGL 40-22G, whereby the Town is authorized to allocate all funds received from fines assessed for violations of handicap parking to the commission on disabilities. The Treasurer/Collector’s office steered me to the Grafton Police Dept. I have a message out to the P.D. and hope to provide a $ figure for handicap parking fines assessed in 2008. I’m not sure if the $ clock would start from the date of Town Meeting 10/20/08, 90 days thereafter or some other date. Then again, let’s look at the word “authorized”. Is it a mandate or is the State simply empowering us to steer $ in that direction if we so choose?

  7. Well it is great to see Grafton is paying a bit of attention to ADA laws after two decades. I doubt a federal judge will give Grafton much sympathy or take the excuse that no one signed up to be on their newly formed commission. From all the postings it looks like- #1-Grafton is not compliant with ADA laws – before you say it’s not so, you best read up on State and Federal laws, as well as similar cases and what other towns have paid in non-compliance rulings #2-We have also learned that the North Grafton Branch costs the town in labor costs and any token of new books – which has been few and far between – ALL OTHER COSTS are covered by the Trust! It was noted, Grafton Taxpayers won’t save the headcount dollars since the plan is to move the librarians to the main branch. #3-The South Grafton Branch may not even be owned by the very town that is trying to close it! Again-this was a generous gift to those residents of South Grafton #4-The Selectman don’t seem too eager to get this issue on the agenda for the town meeting? It isn’t on in January and nothing is posted for February. Wonder why? Don’t they feel obligated to step in when the Town they serve is opening itself up to a lawsuit?
    Well good citizens of Grafton don’t think you have not been heard! Letters are being written, phone calls made and some clever politicians, and the American Civil Liberties Union will be called upon to investigate. It should be noted, that historically towns with such charges are then put under a full audit of all town buildings and programs to measure access for those citizens with disabilities. The oh so wise Grafton politicians/Library Board of Trustees may find an audit will cost them a lot more than what they are trying to take away from these two local branch libraries. Guess that commission should have been formed a bit sooner? Keep up the fight, your voices are heard!

  8. I had a meeting yesterday afternoon with the Town Administrator (Interim) and Dana Wilson Chairman of the Grafton Library Trustees (not to be confused with the Nelson Library Trustees)
    On behalf of the Friends of Nelson Library a proposal was presented last week to the TA and it was discussed yesterday. It was decided that Nelson Library can remain open until June 30th – it will be run totally by volunteers – it was also agreed that we could keep the duplicate books to help with out running the Library – There will be a meeting of the Friends of the Nelson Library tomorrow evening in the Meeting room of the Library to work out our schedule and staffing.
    I can only hope that we will keep the duplicate books as they might all disappear to the Center Library.
    We will also be looking for gently used books not really old books to help stock our shelves.
    Anyone having donations can email me at cathyfenton@verizon.net and arrangements will be made to receive your donations.
    With the economy the way it has become and the future doesn’t look to bright, it has been noted on the News and in the Newspapers that people will begin to utilize our Libraries more than ever. Hopefully we will be able to convince those in charge to help us keep the branch open.
    I also hope that the South Grafton People will be able to do the same although they do come under the control of the Center Library.
    It was not our intent to cause the Town problems but no one was listening to our plite.
    It is time that ADA issue has been addressed and hopefully in a positive way.
    Thank you all for your responses

    Need to clear up one issue – our Trust monies has been invested along with the Towns monies – the town gives the Nelson Library a small budget of 38,000.00 which maintaines the building and the park and playground – our employees work part time so there are no benefits – the janitor works 9 hours a week and our three grounds keepers hours vary in the early spring to late fall they could work as much as 30 – 40 hours a month – however during the winter they sometimes have no hours at all – only damage cleanup weather permitting.

    Thank you all and I will keep you posted

    Cathy Fenton
    Nelson Library Trustee

  9. Honestly folks I think Grafton should have formed the Disabilities commission sooner than now! How long has ADA been around ? 20 years or so? With the closings of the libraries we are opening ourselves up to a big fat lawsuit. One that is gonna cost a heck of a lot more than a couple of library salaries. Check out the Telegram blog on the Library. It is sounding like we are in for more than a couple of citizens screaming about this. Grafton in fact may be subject to audits involving more than the library. Once Grafton is accused of failing to comply, we will be evaluated on the offering of our programs, as well as all building access. I don’t think Grafton has thought this through. You think we have a budget problem now! Wait till the fines kick in. Read how other towns fell victim to such fines by trying to close or not renovate buildings to ADA compliancy. Think we best take another look at how this can be cared for so as to avoid such issues.

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