Library slims budget for 2014-15

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

New outdoor lighting is planned for the Voorheesville library after a vandalism incident.

VOORHEESVILLE — While much attention has been given to the ever-increasing needs of schools during budget season, the Voorheesville Public Library has been quietly trimming its budget.

“The board is very aware of rising costs” community members are facing, said library director Gail Alter Sacco.

The board has adopted the $1,150,675 budget that stays under the state-set tax-levy limit. The tax rate is estimated at $1.31 per $1,000 for New Scotland residents, two cents lower than last year. Guilderland and Berne residents will see tax rates at $1.43 and $1.96, respectively.

The library is estimating a loss of $2,000 in revenues from desk receipts — from $20,000 to $18,000 — because of a new system of e-mail reminders to inform borrowers when items are due.

The system was initiated about 18 months ago by all 29 libraries in the Upper Hudson Library System Voorheesville participates in.

The Voorheesville library is also increasing its spending on books by $3,000 — from $69,000 to $72,000 — which includes purchasing both print and e-books, which are more expensive for the library due to licensing.

To make things more economical for both the library and its patrons, the Voorheesville library has invested in several Nook and Kindle e-readers that people can check out for up to four weeks. The e-readers are categorized so one has a selection of titles of a given category, such as fiction or mysteries and thrillers.

Additionally, the library offers a service called Overdrive, where library card holders can sign out and download up to 10 e-books on their computers or other personal devices.

Twenty-nine libraries contribute to the service, and each pays a different amount for it, depending on the size of the community the library serves.

The library budget also increases funds for the maintenance of the building, with the 2014-15 budget taking the capital reserve from 40,000 to zero, and increasing capital projects to $42,000 from $30,000 last year.

The projects to be completed include large-scale repairs to fix the gutters and 25-year-old roof on the building.

Sacco referenced the failed proposal for an overhaul of the library that got shot down by voters last year, saying, “Regardless what happens in the future, [these repairs] are a good thing.”

While the board has been settling in and will spend the next year deep in planning for the future of the library building, the current building has to be maintained, Sacco said.

Other building improvements include additional outdoor lighting, which Sacco said will cost “thousands of dollars.”

She also referenced the vandalism that occurred at the library in January; two teens were arrested.

“The thinking is, if we improve the lighting around the building,” Sacco continued, “it will discourage anything like that from happening.”

The budget proposal would increase spending for travel and conferences to $3,500 from $1,500. Sacco said, as well as training, the library can acquire useful goods and services from conferences.

One recent example is a tool called Career Cruising, where people can create or upload their résumes as well as apply for jobs. The site can be accessed from the library as well as at home for library card holders, and pulls jobs from sites that may not be commonly known, said Sacco.

Continuing about the benefits of having library staff attend conferences, Sacco said it’s about “getting new ideas, but also getting the tools on how to put those ideas to use.”

The library trustees voted to reduce the size of their board from seven to five, which is the typical number for the Voorheesville Public Library. They added the two extra members as a way to get more community input during the time when they were trying to get a new library plan passed, Sacco said. No positions will be open this year.

The budget will be put to a vote on May 20 along with the Voorheesville School District budget.

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