Archive for the ‘MUNJOY Branch’ Category

Hi Folks!  Library meeting TONIGHT!
East End Community School
195 North Street
Steve Podgajny (PPL Director) and
Kevin Donoghue (District 1 Councilor)
are heading up a discussion about the EECS/Munjoy library
Jo Coyne <jocoyne@gwi.net> wrote:
Hi, Ed and Janice – Just want to be sure you both know that there’s a meeting tomorrow (8/13) at 7 p.m., at the East End Community School. Steve Podgajny and Kevin Donoghue are heading up a discussion about the EECS/Munjoy library. I believe PPL will begin moving the children’s collection from the main library to EECS the following day. I can’t attend because WENA meets at the same time and we have our own library/community center issues on the table. I’m hoping that one or both of you might be able to attend and/or help get the word out to others.
I know that despite PPL’s plans to the contrary, questions are still being raised about why the entire children’s collection is going there, rather than being spread among EECS, Reiche and Riverton, the three shared library/school facilities. We’ve made noise over here about having wall shelving installed in the school music room (which was built as part of the community center) with the space to be used as needed by the school and by the library at other times. I believe Steve was told that wasn’t possible but perhaps that could change were enough community pressure brought to bear.
Ed, do you think EECS parents understand the implications on instruction of having the school collection boxed up and most of the instructional space taken away? I hope there’s a good turnout of concerned citizens! Jo

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Effort under way to keep Portland library branch open
West End residents say restoring $30,000 would save the Reiche Branch and allow for more planning.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer [Portland Press Herald]
May 15, 2008
West End residents and others are drumming up support for a budget proposal that would stave off the anticipated closing of the Portland Public Library’s Reiche Branch.

City Councilor David Marshall, who represents the West End, plans to ask the council on Monday to restore $30,000 to the library, giving it $3.1 million for 2008-09, the same amount as this year.

Library officials say the $30,000 will give them a year to analyze their facilities and services and work with the community to develop a long-range plan to address rising costs, limited financial resources and changing library needs.

“We need to secure that $30,000 to buy some breathing room for everyone, especially the kids,” Stephen Podgajny, executive director, said at Wednesday’s board of trustees’ meeting at the main library.

Board members urged an audience of about 50 to call or e-mail councilors before they vote on the Reiche Branch issue during final deliberation of a $185 million city budget starting at 7 p.m. Monday.

“The ball, in the short term, is in their court,” said Nathan Smith, a board vice president and former city councilor.

Library officials shocked West End residents earlier this month when they said they would close the Reiche Branch in response to a $30,000 reduction in city funding. The council initially considered cutting $50,000 from the current funding level.

Then on Monday, library officials gave the council a 15-page memo stating that the current organization and staffing of the main library on Congress Street and its five neighborhood branches “is not sustainable.”

Library officials said they targeted the Reiche Branch because it has the lowest circulation of the city’s six library outlets. They also said Portland has more library outlets per capita (10,776 residents per outlet) than any other city in New England.

At Wednesday’s trustees’ meeting, West End residents described the Reiche Branch as a critical resource in a neighborhood that includes recent immigrants who don’t speak English and longtime residents who live in mansions along the Western Promenade.

“It’s a real melting pot,” said Jo Coyne, a retired school librarian who is a leader of the West End Neighborhood Association. “(The library is) sorely, sorely needed.”

Coyne noted that while Portland taxpayers fund about 82 percent of the library’s budget, the council appoints only one representative to the 19-member board of trustees, which decides how to spend the money.

The board includes several members from towns outside Portland because the state gives the library about $180,000 each year to serve all residents of Cumberland, York and Oxford counties, Podgajny said.

Looking to Monday, Marshall said it’s uncertain whether a majority of the nine-member council will support his $30,000 proposal. Councilors John Anton, Kevin Donoghue and Cheryl Leeman have indicated they’ll back his effort, he said. Councilors James Cohen and Nicholas Mavodones Jr. said they probably will support the measure.

Mayor Edward Suslovic said he supports keeping the Reiche Branch open while library officials develop a long-range plan, but he may push to restore less than $30,000. Councilor Daniel Skolnik said he’s undecided. Councilor Jill Duson didn’t return calls for comment.

“It has the potential to be a close vote,” Marshall said at the trustees’ meeting. “(Restoring $30,000) might not save the Reiche library forever, but it will give us a chance to have a community dialogue.”

Marshall said the $30,000 would come from a contingency fund, so it wouldn’t increase the budget.

With $30,000, the library would be able to retain two part-time librarians who operate the branch at Reiche Community School 20 hours per week, Podgajny said.

The library would still have to lay off the equivalent of five full-time employees, all of them at the main library. It would be closed on Mondays as a result.

Some residents questioned whether Monday is the best day to close the main library.

Others questioned plans to temporarily move children’s services from the main library to the Munjoy Hill Branch during an $8.5 million renovation of the main library, which starts next spring.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:


Copyright © 2008 Blethen Maine Newspapers

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…brief notes by Ed Democracy…

About 10 people attended last night’s meeting with PPL Director Steve Podgajny at the Munjoy Branch Library.   District 1 Councilor Donoghue was also in attendance.

In general, the residents offered many great ideas along with their deep concerns that the changes being proposed for the Munjoy Branch Library could well become irreversible.  Director Podgajny, for his part, offered much information and detailed perspective and seemed genuinely interested and impressed with the quantity and quality of thought regarding the Munjoy Branch Library, the other branches, and the library system, in general, past, present, and future.

Director Podgajny acknowledged the lack of process and community dialogue, which he attributed to the rapid pace of events precipitated by the City’s late budget cuts. 

It was confirmed that there is a good faith understanding that, if the City, next Monday, May 19, restores the $30,000 to achieve flat funding for the City’s contribution to the library system, that the Reiche Branch Library would, indeed, be spared for at least another year.  It is couched in terms of buying at least another year to allow for good process and true community dialogue to look at the Reiche Branch Library’s future within the context of a thorough, transparent and inclusive community process of reevaluating & reengineering the entire library system. 

There was also discussion about creating a Friends of the Library Chapter which could help to sustain  the ongoing functional relationship between the public and the library system’s trustees and administrators.

So, Friends of the Libraries, here is our opening to create a new relationship and to write a new chapter in the history of the Portland Public Library system.



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Branch Library Resolution

Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization (MHNO)
Adopted May 12, 2008

Recognizing that access to a diversified, full service Neighborhood Branch Library, serving the needs of both children and adults, is a vital part of sustainable Community Infrastructure, the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization goes on record as supporting continued diversity, serving everyone -elders, youth, parents and other adults, as well as children – who are all a part of our community, at the Munjoy Hill Branch of the Portland Public Library (which first opened in the Adams School in 1958), and stands in solidarity with the West End Neighborhood Association, whose Reiche Branch is under threat of closure.

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Reiche Branch library may get reprieve
The branch in Portland’s West End will stay open if city councilors restore $30,000 in the budget.

May 13, 2008

The Reiche Branch of the Portland Public Library would get a year’s reprieve under a new spending proposal outlined at Monday’s City Council budget workshop.

Library officials said the branch in Portland’s West End would stay open if the council restores a $30,000 reduction in the 2008-09 municipal budget.

However, they also said the current library organization and staffing for the main library on Congress Street at Monument Square and five neighborhood branches isn’t sustainable.

Under the latest proposal, the city would provide $3.1 million – the same as this year – to fund 82 percent of the library’s operating budget.

The library would be able to retain two part-time librarians who operate the branch at Reiche Elementary School 20 hours per week, Stephen Podgajny, the library’s executive director, told the council.

The library would still have to lay off the equivalent of five full-time employees, all of them at the main library. It would be closed on Mondays as a result.

Councilor David Marshall, who represents the West End, said he will recommend that the $30,000 be restored when the council debates and votes on the municipal budget next Monday.

In return, Marshall said, library officials are expected to analyze library facilities and services in the coming year and develop a long-range plan to address rising costs, limited financial resources and changing library needs. Both library officials and councilors noted that the lack of such a plan leaves the Reiche Branch in jeopardy, along with other branches, including the Munjoy Hill Branch in the East End.

“It strikes me that the East End branch is no more sustainable than the Reiche Branch,” said John Anton, an at-large councilor who lives in the West End.

Library officials provided a 15-page memo answering questions councilors asked after last week’s surprise announcement that the Reiche Branch would close. The memo outlines several planned changes, such as temporarily moving children’s services from the main library to the Munjoy Hill Branch during a two-year, $8.5 million renovation of the main library.

Munjoy Hill Branch hours would increase from 20 to 45 hours per week while children’s staff from the main library is working there, Podgajny said. The memo says the Munjoy Hill Branch would resume traditional branch services after the renovation, but it also raises concern about maintaining all of the branches.

“The current system is not sustainable in light of a variety of service principles and fiscal realities,” the memo says.

The memo lists these lending totals, for books and other items, at each branch: Burbank, 214,672; Riverton, 56,920; Peaks Island, 35,499; Munjoy Hill, 29,651; and Reiche, 16,644.

The memo also provides lending and branch information for 14 other public libraries in the Northeast. Portland (population 64,656) has one library outlet for every 10,776 people. “We have more branches per capita than any other city in New England,” Podgajny said outside the council meeting.

Also, Portland had a per-capita lending rate of 11 items in 2005, topped only by the three-branch library system in West Hartford, Conn. (population 61,392), which has a rate of 13 items.

The memo suggests working with various community groups to provide a spectrum of library services, from children’s reading hours to special speakers, in all Portland neighborhoods.

Earlier this month, the council’s finance committee restored $20,000 of a proposed $50,000 reduction in the city’s library appropriation.

Marshall said the remaining $30,000 would come from a contingency fund, so it wouldn’t increase the budget.

As proposed, the combined $274.5 million city and school budget would increase Portland’s property tax rate by 64 cents (3.7 percent), from $17.10 to $17.74 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:



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Portland Public Library’s latest plan:               [ LIBRARY BUDGET – PDF]

Close Reiche                        [LATEST Save Our Library! FLYER – PDF]
Burbank remains open 40 hours per week
Riverton and Peaks remain open 20 hours per week
Munjoy’s hours increase to 40 hours per week
Check out the new Save the Branches blog, created by Ed Democracy: www.savethebranches.wordpress.com This is an important site for library users in all parts of Portland. Many wonder, if Reiche can be dismissed so easily, which other branch will be the next victim. Thanks, Ed, for helping us to keep up to speed and to share information!
Ongoing coverage of efforts to save our branch libraries is also available at these news websites:
Attachments: (1) Library budget (2) Meeting and contact info (Please note: The City Council’s budget workshop (May 12, 5 p.m., City Hall) is open to the public. No comments will be taken but attendance will be noted. Please attend if possible!
5.08.08 From Councilor John Anton to several residents that had contacted him:
Thank you all for contacting me to express your concern about the proposed closing of Reiche library. I share your concern and I wanted to take a moment to offer my thoughts on where we are and what we are heading.
Attached to this email is a copy of the budget that the Library Trustees provided to the City Council at the beginning of the Finance Committee’s budget review process. On pg. 6 of the 11 page pdf file, you will note that the Library’s proposed budget of $3,988,509 includes funding for all 3 school-based branches (Reiche, EECS and Riverton. The library’s FY 09 budget submittal has 18% of its revenues coming from outside sources and 82% from the city.
The library’s budget submittal proposed increasing the city’s contribution to the library by approx. $160,000 (compare the 1st and 3rd columns on page 1 of the pdf). The city manager responded by reducing the library’s requested amount of city funding by approx. $210,000 (compare the 3rd and 4th columns on page 1 of the pdf). The result was a net $50,000 decrease in the city’s contribution to the library from FY 08 to FY 09 (compare the 1st and 4th columns on page 1 of the pdf). The Finance Committee of the City Council has recommended increasing the city’s contribution to the library by $20,000, which would result in a net decrease of $30,000 in the city’s contribution to the library from FY 08 to FY 09 and a $190,000 “hole” in the budget proposed by the Library to the City.
The Manager’s proposal has been on the table since April 1 and until last week, the Finance Committee had not heard that the Trustees were planning to close the Reiche branch to fill the “hole.” As a Finance Committee member, this is frustrating because I believe that we worked hard to fine tune the budget to diminish “quality of life” impacts (e.g., restoring funding for Kiwanis Pool) while living within our very real fiscal constraints. Without knowledge of potential impacts of budget proposals, we could not make informed decisions.
I have no understanding of the context in which the decision to close Reiche was made. I want to know:
a)      What are the Library’s long-term plans for all its branches or is this simply a reaction to a one year budget shortfall?
b)      How were these long-term plans developed? Whose input was solicited? How was it solicited?
Who “owns” our three school-based community centers (Reiche, EECS and Riverton)? Programs are run through these locations by (at least) three distinct but interdependent entities – the Library, the School Department and the City. My limited experience has been that the integration of those three entities is by no means seamless. The managerial and political result is that, while the community centers have huge benefit, their activities occupy only tiny fractions of the budgets of the Library, the Schools and the City and, as such, have no champions in the budget exercise. West End residents have made great strides in recent years in demanding more attention to the Reiche Community Center. They (we) must now demand that the Library Trustees engage with the School Dept and the City Administration in planning about how all three school-based community centers will be valued and managed.
What is the Library’s strategy for diversifying its revenues? The library’s revenues are derived roughly 80% from the city and 20% from other sources. This year’s budget proposal proposed increasing revenues from the city by $210,000 while increasing revenues from other sources by only $2,500. Given the city’s long-term revenue challenges, it is unrealistic for the library to rely solely on the City to manage its expense increases.
The City Council only appropriates money for the Library; we do not govern its operations. The Library is instead governed by its Board of Trustees, which authorizes the final budget and policy decisions. Those who are concerned with changes in the Library system should attend the next meeting of the Library’s Trustees, which will be held on Wednesday May 14 at 4 pm at the Main Library.
My request to the Trustees is as follows:
1)         Slow down. Find a different interim solution for covering the budget shortfall while engaging in a community dialogue about the future of the library system.
2)         Work with the School Dept. and City to integrate service delivery at all 3 school-based community centers.
3)         Diversify your income stream. Fund raise, change your fee structure.
4)         Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. The Library is in the home stretch of a capital campaign which will then segue into greater efforts to raise money for the Annual Fund. Failure to engage with the community about the Library’s plans for the future will undermine those efforts. Peace, John
5.08.08 From State Rep. Jon Hinck to John Anton and residents that had contacted John
Thank you for forwarding this analysis.  It helps to fill in some of the gaps in the decision making process thus far.   You have also set forth questions that I think many of us would like to see answered.  What I do not know at this stage is who the person who will provide definitive answers to the questions.  I feel that people concerned about the fate of the Reiche branch library have a legitimate wariness over these kinds of decisions that are spread over or appear to fall in between more than one city body.  The process to date seems to have gone something like this: first, the city has arrived at a sum to allocate to the budget of the library system; then, faced with a reduced allocation, the library trustee have decide on what is the best or easiest way to divide money within the system.  It seems this two step process got us here and led to the sudden and surprise announcement of last week.  At this stage that the city should step back and look at this situation another way.  Acknowledging the city’s severe budget constraints, some still needs to assess whether closing an important community asset in the neighborhood that you and I know well is proper, just and smart when compared to all other ways to reduce expenses or increase revenues.  The Reiche branch library does not cost this city much money but, as you know, it does serve a vital function.  Please let us all know of any answers you receive and I will be pleased to work with you to find another way to approach this.  Jon Hinck 


 [LATEST Save Our Library! FLYER – PDF]


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District 1 City Councilor, Kevin Donoghue, reports that he and Library Director, Steve Podgajny will host a neighborhood meeting Tuesday night at 7:30 at the MUNJOY Branch Library (195 North Street).  

Donoghue says that, “according to the library director, no plans now exist to close the Munjoy Branch after the proposed two-year period as the city’s children’s branch. ” 

Donoghue points out that, “The Monday City Council Workshop is not a public hearing and there will not be public comment at that time.” 

Heather Curtis, Munjoy Hill resident, said, “I plan on attending the City Council workshop Monday at 5, even if it is not a Public Hearing where Public Comment will be taken. I have found that it is often a good idea to attend workshop sessions, to be sure I am receiving the information needed to make informed choices as a Citizen. ”


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