A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pols Apart on MAPL Board

Wednesday night's meeting of the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library Board of Trustees included an interesting flair up between its two municipal politicians and the rest of the board. As part of their never ending effort to reduce our two governments' financial obligations towards the library, Mayor Paul Buccellato (Matawan) and Councilman Greg Cannon (Aberdeen) met in March with Ken Sheinbaum, Director of the Monmouth County Library to see what cost savings might be experienced through the absorption of our library into the county system as a branch. The two pols kept this little fact-finding trip to themselves, at least until May, when the county library announced at its May meeting that the MAPL trustees were exploring the option of becoming a county branch.

The balance of the board members, most of whom are municipal appointees, voiced their concerns that 1) the board had been represented to the county library by a delegation of its members without the board's prior approval, and 2) that the board was not even told after the fact about the meeting. Board members pointed out that Mr Sheinbaum had visited the trustees last fall and had made it pretty clear that there were no cost savings in becoming a county branch. The board worked past this momentary rift by agreeing to accept an offer to meet with Freeholder Director Lillian G Burry and Mr Sheinbaum to learn more about becoming a county branch. This would be a special public meeting of the trustees, which could be held as early as mid-June. Watch for a public announcement of the special meeting.

Beyond giving the library to the county, supporting legislation to diminish or remove entirely the obligation of municipalities to fund their local libraries, and becoming much more personally involved with the local board and its activities, Buccallato and Greg Cannon are also eyeing $400,000 that the board is holding as restricted funds designated for capital improvements. According to the Strategic Plan, these funds will be used to capitalize development of the library facility. The pols see the funds as dormant and accessible for redistribution to the municipalities to provide taxpayer relief, while others on the board see the funds as coming into play once a restriction on the land given to the library many years ago expires in a year or two. No one can summarily remove the restriction on these funds, which make up nearly 60% of the library's cash holdings, but you can be sure an effort will be made to redirect their use in coming months.

Other news from the trustees meeting:
  • The search committee expects the library will have a new director no later than October. The interim has agreed to stay until the new director is in place as long as the process isn't protracted. The committee has met with the professional headhunter they hired and a timeline for completion of the search is being fine tuned.
  • The board has learned that the library's endless need to repair its air conditioners and elevator could be in part the result of an inadequate level of power service to the building.
  • The board is having a number of the library's electrical outlets and switches moved. A couple of outlets need to be moved so shelving can be properly installed.
  • The library is having problems with people keeping their cars in the parking lot. The board is exploring getting a Matawan ordinance authorizing the library to have vehicles towed.
  • The board is contracting with Add-A-Link Fence Co to repair sections of fence damaged by a vehicle in the parking lot.
  • The elevator repair company showed up but needed to order parts. Stay tuned. The first stage of repairs will be someday soon. Really.
After the meeting, I spoke with Kathleen Eovino, the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District's representative on the MAPL Board of Trustees. She said that neither Superintendent O'Malley nor the MRHS Principal Ruscavage has spoken to her personally on the occasion of her upcoming departure as high school librarian and, by extension, about her replacement on the library board. Hurt and disgruntled, Mr Eovino commented that they haven't even told her to be sure to turn the lights out when she leaves.  Ms Eovino hopes to finish out her tenure as a trustee by completing her work on the search committee for a new director.

It is more than a shame that  MARSD will no longer have a professional librarian at either its high school or middle school. People with children will surely think twice about buying a home in Matawan or Aberdeen when they look at how the school district undercuts its students in favor of tax relief.

BTW, the MAPL webmistress desperately needs to update the online roster of the board of trustees.


  1. I think the first thing that patrons will not be happy about if the board decides to join the county system is that they will no longer be able to use their library card at Old Bridge....not to mention that services, programming, hours and staff may be limited as a branch of the Monmouth County Library System.

    The county recently acquired West Long Branch as a branch and it appears that it wound up costing the county more money than they had intended. The MAPL Board of Trustees may want to join the county system, but does the county system really want to aqcuire the MAPL?

  2. We would also lose Sunday hours, as I understand it. There would no doubt be efficiencies in economies of scale that would result in a net savings, but I suspect we would lose the discretion to operate a library here if the county decided it should be closed. If the county starts bleeding funds, do you really think they are going to give the property back to us rather than sell it? Or, more importantly, do you think our officials would re-obligate the municipalities to having a library and the damnable tax that accompanies it if the county wanted out of the deal some day?

  3. I checked the Monmouth County Library site. It doesn't seem that they post their agendas or minutes on the web. At least our public library tries to do so. Perhaps they only post meetings in the print media? Or being a library, instead of a governmental unit they don't post notices at all?

    In this day and age, posting notices using only the classifieds harkens back to a time when the populace was generally less aware and discerning, little better than serfs, who trusted their vassals to make prudent choices for their well being.

    Obviously, in the case of our own library, some of our "protectors" seem to turn from protector into the fox in the hen house as it suits their reasoning of the moment. I can only hope that those that do so have tweaks of the conscience occasionally for their lapses in conduct and ethics, when they are not justifying their behavior to themselves.

    Does anyone know when this special meeting is supposed to be taking place between the MAPL and the Monmouth County Library?
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