Five library candidates vie for four seats

GUILDERLAND — Five candidates are running for four seats on the Guilderland Public Library’s board of trustees; 2006 was the last time there was a race for the board — when four candidates ran for three seats — and that was a rarity, too, after years of write-in candidates, some winning their seats with fewer than 25 votes.

For several years, the board discussed changing its charter to reduce the number of board members.

On May 20, voters will choose among: incumbents Robert Feller, Barbara Fraterrigo, and Carroll Valachovic, and newcomers Karen Carpenter Palumbo and Carolyn Williams.

The top three vote-getters will serve full five-year terms and the fourth-place candidate will fill out the term left when Robert Ganz resigned from the 11-member board.

The library, which is run independently of the school district with its own board and budget, follows school district lines. District voters will also decide on a $3.5 million budget proposal for next year, an increase of 1.42 percent over last year’s spending plan.

The library estimates that Guilderland residents will pay $1.14 per $1,000 of assessed valuation —two cents more than this year. The proposed budget stays under the state-set levy limit and so requires a simple majority to pass.

Candidates were asked about their background and their favorite books. They were also asked why they were running and what they hoped to accomplish on the board.

Each was also asked to comment on these issues:

— Budget: Do you support the $3.5 million budget? Why or why not? Is there anything you’d have liked included that isn’t or something you think could have been done without? Should the board ever go over the state-set levy limit in order to provide more?

— Library’s role: What is the role of a public library in the Internet age? (Currently roughly 3 percent of the Guilderland library’s circulation is electronic.)

— Plans for the future: What direction should the library take at this juncture in light of the 2012 bond defeat for expansion and in light of declining use in recent years? The 10-year plan has expired and meetings will start this summer to come up with a new long-range plan.

Director Timothy Wiles estimates that circulation and foot traffic are both down about 10 percent from the high points reached during the depth of the recession. Circulation for the 2012-13 fiscal year was roughly 500,000, down from 590,000 the previous year, and 640,000 the year before that.

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