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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 30, 2009
Budget stable for V’ville library
By Saranac Hale Spencer
VOORHEESVILLE The public library here hopes to begin planning for a new building in the coming year and has presented a budget for 2009-10 that looks quite similar to this year’s spending plan.
Residents of the Voorheesville School District will vote on the budget on May 19 along with library trustee. Robert Parmenter is running unopposed to keep his seat on the library board, an unpaid post.
Library Director Gail Sacco called the proposed budget “controlled and maintained.” The total proposed budget is $988,600, which is a $27,000 increase over the current budget. The estimated tax-rate increase in New Scotland is a penny to the current rate of $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value. In Guilderland and Berne the estimated increase is three cents on the current rates of $1.29 and $1.74, respectively.
Most of the changes from the current budget to the proposed budget come from a “reallocation of funds,” Sacco said. For example, the library’s bookkeeper resigned this year and will be not be replaced; rather, the library will use a consulting accountant. And, the library added a part-time building maintenance person so it will no longer use a cleaning service.
In a recent letter to the community, the library’s board of trustees wrote, “In light of the dismal economic climate, we have decided to proceed cautiously with our library expansion project.” In 2006, after getting approval from voters, the library bought five-and-a-half acres of land behind its current building to allow for expansion. Now, after consulting with Sano-Rubin Construction Co., the library is hoping to construct a new building that would allow for more usable space for patrons and more room for materials.
The company put together a report in the spring of 2006 that states “library personnel” were looking for a roughly 8,500-square-foot expansion, which would double the size of the current building, completed in 1988. It would cost an estimated $2 million to add a second floor to the building while it is empty and $900,000 more if it were still in use during construction. It would cost $2.1 million to expand the building to the south and $2.3 to expand to the east. A recent e-mail to the library from David Hollander, of Sano-Rubin, says that the estimated costs in the report should be increased by 20 percent to account for inflation since 2006.
“When the board began exploring the process of growing the library and its services, we consulted with building engineers at Sano-Rubin and library architect J. Stewart Roberts,” says the letter from the library board. “We learned that there are major structural limitations to expanding the current building, which would be very costly to overcome.”
The library could serve as a community gathering space, the letter says. “The reality is that the profound shift from paper to digital content will only continue,” it explains. “But rather than becoming obsolete, libraries, such as ours, are in a unique position to offer not only new technology but also new connections among neighbors, as well as traditional services.”
One of the things Sacco is most excited about and hopes to complete in the coming year is a project to turn the community room into a distance-learning center, which could also let people communicate. She gave the example of local families being able to videoconference with active-duty service members. The library delayed new equipment purchases to allow for more money to put into the distance-learning center in the proposed budget, she said, the idea being that the library’s technology should complement what people have at home by offering things like streaming video. The distance-learning center, she said by way of example, could take local Girl Scouts on a field trip to Chicago museums.
“I’m hoping,” she said of getting it done in the next year.
Over the past year, Sacco said, use of the library has been up. “In March of 2009 we were up eight percent since March 2008,” she said. Last month, the library circulated 22,000 items. “We circulated 118,000 items in the last fiscal year,” she said, which ran from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008.
Looking over this past year, Sacco said, “The librarians have continued to expand their expertise. Two of them refreshed their medical reference knowledge, she said, and received medical library certification to help patrons find medical information.
With $10,000 in grant money, Sacco said, the library got a movie-quality projector, a new screen, and a new audio system and it will soon get a license to show nearly new-release movies. The money came from the Voorheesville Community and School Foundation, Friends of the Library, and donations.
“We’re trying to enrich our resources for the community and be really careful about the money,” said Sacco.