A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

MAPL Trustees Get to Work; Trying to Put Past Behind Them

The Matawan-Aberdeen Public Library (MAPL) Board of Trustees had a long but productive meeting this evening. The Board has adapted nicely to publicly attended meetings -- about twenty citizens showed up this evening. Each Board member has a name placard. Members turn and make sure the public understands particular issues, even passing around selected handouts that have circulated at the table among the Board. The public for its part has learned the rules of the Board and saves its questions and (most of its) comments to a portion of the meeting dedicated to all matters of concern.
  • The Board's first order of business was a disciplinary hearing involving the Youth Services Librarian. Ms McGovern faced charges involving her violation of the privacy of patron records and representing herself as a library spokesman and policymaker. After lengthy discussion along many lines, Ms McGovern was issued a written reprimand and ordered to submit to quarterly personnel reviews til year's end.  The Board acknowledged its need for a media relations policy and moved to rectify that this evening. Grievance procedures and the need for a personnel policy manual were discussed.
  • The Interim Director and President of the Board both thanked the Friends of the Library for hosting a staff appreciation luncheon recently.
  • A survey shows that library book circulation has been marching upward ever since the strategic plan was implemented, from 100,000 (2007) to 111,000 (2008) to 130,000 (2009). The latter represents a more than 20% increase in both adult's and children's book circulations over the previous year. The interlibrary loan program grew substantially since 2008, both in books lent to other libraries (153%) and books received from them (191%). The number of adult programs increased 42% to 160, with 1,763 participating (36% increase). Over 4,500 children participated in 312 programs in 2009. It's unclear whether the New Collection Development Policy was approved, but the strategy seems to be working. (All this for less than $42 per person living in the joint municipalities. Note that the average per capita municipal appropriation in the state is nearly $60.)
  • The Board President read an eloquent letter the Board addressed to Superintendent of Schools asking him to reconsider his decision to eliminate the librarians at MAMS and MRHS. I especially liked the parts where the letter said O'Malley had "substituted good sense for a few cents." The Interim Director has begun talking to the local middle and high schools about a library partnership to contend with the imminent loss of these school librarians.
  • The Board agreed with a preparatory committee's recommendation to hire Alan Burger of Library Development Solutions as the consultant who will help MAPL find its next library director. The Board hopes to fill the vacancy by 1 July. The search committee and its schedule have yet to be established.
  • A masonry company will replace 8 sections of concrete sidewalk. Brown's Heating and Cooling will replace an air conditioning compressor. The handicapped door button was fixed. Lighting projects have been completed and others are yet to be done. Shrubs were purchased at an excellent price at Gasko's Family Farm in Monroe and planted outside the library. And the famed broken elevator will be fixed next week. It will be a two phase process, including a cab refit, but the Board promises that the elevator will be running by early next week.
  • The Interim Director has been checking evacuation and fire safety aspects of the library. A basement cleanup resulted in a full dumpster. LMXAC consulted on the library's PCs to see which remain viable and which need to be replaced. The library has switched to Cablevision and now has a Symphony network upgrade. The State Library team made its first visit to look at the library's CD display and made some interesting suggestions. The library's fence was significantly damaged by a car. The insurance company is being consulted about replacement. Illegally parked cars in the parking lot are an issue. Arrangements are under way to put signage at the Broad Street entrance to the library parking lot.
  • The library had 16,133 visitors in April!


  1. I reviewed the library's strategic plan last night. It was a commendable package. Of particular interest, "going forward" as I heard one of the members of the board state last night, is the Mission Statement, published on page 10.

    "The Matawan Aberdeen Public Library, the community’s
    hometown library, provides resources to help people realize
    their dreams"

  2. One suggestion I tried to make at the Board meeting, rather badly I'm afraid, is that the library ought to take advantage of its remaining space to account for the increase in the numbers of patrons who are bringing their own technology.

    Perhaps the sofa and coffee table area can be modified into a set up of tables reserved specially for people who need to use a laptop. That area could easily seat at least 6 laptop users if modular table tops are provided by a generous benefactor group or through library funds.

    When the space is available, it could still be used for regular readers, but with a sign up that says people should defer to laptop users upon request.

    I foresee the day when users will be utilizing lap tops, digital readers, palm pilots and other media to access myriad databases through their library membership, e-checking out books, and utilizing the printing services through prepaid charges on their member account.

    Until then we can provide a place for them to utilize the services currently offered, at a place that they can supplement with hard print media.