Library Board Passes Budget
Additional taxpayer funding is one reason the James Prendergast Library will be adding staff in 2021.
Earlier this month, the library board approved the 2021 budget, which will include the addition of three employees to the staff. Annie Greene, library executive director, said the additional staff will include an IT master librarian, a cleaning and maintenance person and a part-time security guard.
Greene said in 2015 the library had eight master level librarians. However, through the years with the loss of funding from the state and the city, library officials reduced its masters level librarians to just three in 2020. She also said that because of the loss in funding, the library has been without a maintenance and cleaning person, and the building needs “attention.” She added that the part-time security guard is needed to count the people in the building to follow the state’s mandate of capacity limits during the pandemic. Greene said, currently, programing staff covers the entrance, which takes them away from handling their main responsibilities.
Mike Corey, library board treasurer, said the 2021 budget totals $987,440, which is a 20% increase compared to this year’s budget. He said the main reason the budget increased is because voters in the Jamestown Public Schools District in June approved $350,000 in annual funding to the library.
“This brings us back to the service level where we were before,” Corey said.
Because of the voters approving the annual funding, the library will also regain its central library status. This means a possible reallocation of state aid the library lost when its central library status revoked in 2019. The library’s state aid was decreased by about $111,000 in 2020 because of the loss of the central library status.
In other library business, the board approved changes to the pandemic policy. There were three policies changed, with one being to update the staffing policy to ensures the library runs with a safe and appropriate level of employees under the governor’s mandates.
Greene said additional changes were done to address the library’s continuation of online programming services, and access to digital resources and staff work responsibilities changing based on whether the library is open, partially open or closed.
“The priority is the health and safety of staff and the community,” Greene told The Post-Journal after the meeting.
Another change dealt with possible staffing changes during the pandemic if the library has to close. Greene said these updates addresses the ability to anticipate staffing needs during a closure.
“When we closed the library in March, it was an emergency closure, with little time to plan and implement library services digitally,” she said. “Library staff did an excellent job adapting and creating innovative ways to offer library resources and services to the public. We will continue this model in the event of another closure, only now we have the knowledge, training and forethought to prioritize services and make digital access even better.”