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Hi Folks!  Library meeting TONIGHT!
 
East End Community School
195 North Street
7pm
 
Steve Podgajny (PPL Director) and
Kevin Donoghue (District 1 Councilor)
are heading up a discussion about the EECS/Munjoy library
 
SAVE THE BRANCHES!
 
 
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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MAINE VOICES  [Portland Press Herald Op-Ed]
Library decisions not made lightly

Ten percent of the system’s staff are still scheduled to lose their positions.

By TAFFY FIELD and PETER MERRILL
 
May 31, 2008

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Taffy Field is president and Peter Merrill is past president of the Portland Public Library Board of Trustees.

Two recent editorials suggested that the Portland Public Library should have been able to cut $30,000 from its budget without closing any branches.

We wish it were that simple. The Press Herald also thinks that the library should have allowed enough time for a full public discussion before deciding to close the Reiche branch.

We also wish this was that simple. But the facts are more complicated, and the circumstances were not so generous.

Here’s why: In mid-January we were informed that the city planned to reduce our existing funding by $25,000. Doing that was as simple as the Press Herald suggests. We stopped buying books and other materials and froze staff training.

We were also told that we should expect flat funding for the fiscal year starting in July. This was confirmed in March.

Given the increases in fuel and health insurance, a modest salary increase for our staff, and cuts from the state and the county, flat funding meant that we needed to cut $175,000 from our budget.

In response, we set goals and principles to guide our decisions. Since 70 percent of our budget is personnel costs, there was no painless way to make the cuts. We needed to reduce the points of contact with the public in a way that would maintain quality.

We were relieved that we were able to do this without closing any branches. It came, however, at great cost to the fine people who work at the library: 10 percent would lose their jobs.

This tragedy has been lost behind the headlines about closing the Reiche branch.

These hard-working, faithful employees are going to lose their jobs through no fault of their own. We appreciate their service and regret their loss.

To reduce points of contact, we need to reconfigure the layout of our Main branch and reduce hours. We will have to close for two weeks to do this.

When we are done, the public computers will be on the ground floor, audio-visual will be on the main floor, and most of the children’s materials will be temporarily consolidated at the Munjoy branch.

New periodicals will be on the third floor where we will create a reading area. These changes (and others) will allow us to reduce the number of staff needed.

These are dramatic changes, but another shoe was about to drop. In early April, just weeks before the City Council’s public hearing on the budget, we were informed that we needed to cut an additional $50,000, pushing the total reduction needed to approximately $225,000.

We had protected the branches throughout this process, but could no longer do so. We were out of options and we were out of time.

The council’s Finance Committee recognized our challenge and restored $20,000, but to find an additional $30,000 on top of the cuts we had made would require a major cut the amount of money we spend on books. Although we hated the Reiche decision, we did not want to attack the fundamental quality of our institution.

We are grateful to the council and the city manager for keeping Reiche open another year.

This will allow for the public dialogue the Press Herald, the council and the library would like. We have just had the only kind of dialogue the timing of the budget process allowed.

We look forward to a broader, city-wide discussion of how we can best serve peoples needs given our financial limits.

The Portland Public Library was created in 1867 when the city of Portland proposed that a group of leading citizens make their private lending library available to all. In return, the city offered space and support.

That initial public-private partnership has developed into the finest library system in the state. While we face financial challenges, we are dedicated to maintaining the excellence of the library for all who use it.

— Special to the Press Herald

 

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