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League of Women Voters of New Castle, NY

P.O. Box 364, Chappaqua, NY  10514. e-mail: lwv.newcastle@gmail.com

Observer Notes Chappaqua Library 2005-2006


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The League of Women Voters of New Castle is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages citizens to play an informed and active role in government. Basic to all our activities is observing how government at all levels is working. League observers attend local public meetings and provide the following reports. Following are notes on Library Board meetings. If you are interested in keeping up to date on Library activities, please consider becoming a League observer and help us keep this page up to date. Email lwvnewcastle@optonline.net.

Click for New Castle Town Board notes, or for Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education notes.


Chappaqua Library Board Meeting on September 19, 2006

Board Members present: Milan Tyler, Stan Kurzban, John Sorice, Janet Himel and Brian Socolow

Others present: Acting Director Carolyn Reznick; Business Manager Jo Lunetta; Staff Members Gerry Carpino, Carol Birch, Michelle Capozetta and Dennis McDougall

Minutes from the July 19th and July 25th meetings were approved.

Finances

July and August statements were approved.  The capital fund was discussed and additional project expenditures were approved for new carpet, a new telephone system and a data closet.  This still keeps the cost on target with money left over for contingency. 

August and September bills were approved.

Building Project

Some of the delayed openings were due to bad air quality when work was being done on the a/c unit.  The electricians wired the expansion wall for an electronic sign should the library choose to purchase one in the future.  No other pressing needs at this time.

Mr. Sorice and Ms. Reznick are working on a proposal to the state for funds that they have available to libraries for construction projects.  The board is hopeful that they will get some money from the state to offset the costs of the renovation.

The re-opening party is scheduled for November 18th.  Simon Schama will be the featured speaker.  The children’s room is planning a public art project to coincide with the opening.  They are asking the community to decorate hard cover books that will line Greeley Avenue illustrating that “all roads leada to the library”. 

Premises

The board approved the Keating proposal for new parking lot lights.  State needs to approve expenditure but this is expected since the lights enhance security.  Ms. Reznick will notify the neighbors although the lights are not expected to disrupt the neighborhood. 

Ms. Reznick will also check with the town board re: a formal request that the library made to extend the parking limit on Greeley from 4 to 8 hours.

Reference desk report

Ms. Capozella reported on a new service that the reference desk is considering, an instant messaging reference capability.  This would allow patrons to IM a question and have an online discussion similar to the type of discussion that they would have if they were standing at the desk.  Ms. Capozzella listed some of the advantages as: 53MM adults currently use instant messaging, it provides anonymity and it allows the reference librarian to manipulate the caller’s computer to direct the patron to information.  Some of the challenges are: how does the librarian make it personal, they need to rely more on instinct and how do they convey friendliness and interest over the computer. 

This capability would cost nothing but would have to be advertised to patrons so they know it is available.  If a decision is taken to introduce it, they may do it on a test period and only offer it during certain hours of the day.

Children's room report

Ms. Birch gave a report on the children’s room.  She listed the challenges as:

Balancing classics with popular books.  Although she recognizes the importance of the classics she knows that to entice children to read they have to have a variety of materials.  The library also has to have issue books on hand and videos/dvds that cannot be found in mass market stores.

Accommodating different ages and moms.  The programs that they run need to entice a variety of ages.  She also said they perform a community role in that the children’s room is a meeting place for new mothers to meet other moms and their babies.  The children’s librarians act as a resource desk for parenting questions, i.e. books about parenting or advice about community organizations to assist new parents (like breastfeeding organizations).

For children the library is a community center and a place where they are introduced to the world through books and programs.

Ms. Birch asked for the following: 

More space, an ongoing issue.  They may need storage off site for some books.  They need space to have more books facing out, a real enticement to children.  They would like more comfy reading space and more internet computers and study areas. 

She would also like the library policy to be updated to say that no child under the age of seven can be left alone in the children’s room and no elementary age child can be left alone in the library w/o a parent or caregiver.

Upgrade the children’s bathroom with a little seat for a toddler to be placed in while the mother is changing an infant.

Cover the window ledges to make them safe for toddlers.

Turn one window in the children’s activity room into an emergency exit so they can set up more chairs.


Chappaqua Library Board Meeting on June 28, 2006

Board Members Present:  Mitchell Make, Milan Tyler, Stan Kurzban, John Sorice and Brian Socolow

Others Present: Director Mark Hasskarl; Business Manager Jo Lunetta,; Board Member Elect Janet Himmel, Staff members Gerry Carpino, Carolyn Reznick, Joan Kuhn, Barbara Le Suavage, Paula Peyraud, George Rosamond AIA, Partner

Summary:

Most of this meeting was devoted to the renovation project.  Mr. Rosamond took the Board on a tour of the work and discussed anticipated changes to the plans.  The project completion is still on target with a grand opening being planned for November 1st.  There was some discussion on putting a library foundation in place.  Mr. Make said farewell and Ms. Himmel was introduced to the Board.

Finances:

May statements were approved.  The project cost is on target.  Some discussion about additional costs but these were already in the budget as contingencies.  Any change orders up to $1000 can be approved by Mr. Hasskarl but anything over needs to be discussed with Mr. Kurzban.

June bills were approved.

Building Project:

Ms. Resnick has done an analysis of furniture needs and received a competitive quote if study desks, computer desks, circulation desk and reference desk are ordered together.  The Board approved her request to spend $50,000 on the furniture.

Long Range Plan:

The first draft of the long range plan was sent previously to the Board members.  All have commented and now Mr. Hasskarl will sift through the comments to come up with a final draft to present to the Board by July 7th.

Library Foundation:

A foundation is doable and potentially successful but takes a lot of time and effort and people.  It was decided to have a professional fundraiser that Mr. Socolow recommended come to speak to the Board about setting up a foundation.

Premises:

The Board approved $2000 for the initial drawings of the new lights.  Mr. Hasskarl still has to notify neighbors of the new lights.

Other:

The budget calendar will changed to reflect all important Board dates, including the planning dates for the budget process such as salary reviews.  Other items to be added are the date for the annual report to the community, audit deadlines, community day and the annual Friends Book Sale.

Ms. Kuhn will report next month on the plans for the re-opening of the library.

Mr. Socolow would like more information from staff who attend special meetings.  The Board gets an overview of the meetings they go to but he would like more input about how they can incorporate some of the things they learn.

Comments:
The staff wanted to say how happy they are with the general contractor.  He is easy to work with and considerate of their needs.


Chappaqua Library Board Meeting April 18, 2006

Board Members Present:  Mitchell Make, Milan Tyler, Stan Kurzban, John Sorice and Brian Socolow
Others Present: Director Mark Hasskarl, Staff Members Carol Birch, Gerri Carpino, Carolyn Reznick

Minutes were approved for the March 14th, March 18th and March 23rd board meetings.  Future meetings scheduled for May 17th and June 20th.

Finance

After some discussion and clarification, the March statements, capital fund and April bills were approved.  The long range plan was discussed briefly and Mark committed to having a copy ready by the next meeting, time permitting.  The project is taking up a lot of his time.

Buildings and Grounds

A second proposal is being sought for upgrading the lights in the parking lot.  Mr. Make advised that any changes to the lights should be decided in conjunction with the long range plan so that expensive work done now will not have to be redone later.   A parking sub committee was formed to address the long term issue of parking and the lights.  The committee members are Mr. Kurzban, Mr. Hasskarl and Mr. Tyler, the committee chair.

Expansion and Renovation Project

The renovation project is proceeding on schedule.  The library will open late (1:00) on April 24th and 25th and may have to open late or possibly close for a day or two as the work progresses.  Closings and changes to the hours are to be minimized but are sometimes unavoidable especially if the health of patrons or staff could be jeopardized.

Staff

A number of staff and the director attended the Public Library Association Conference in Boston and came back with great ideas.

Policy

A section was added to the policy manual regarding relations with the press.  It states that employees should not talk to the press but should forward all calls to the library director who will respond immediately to calls about operational matters.  On all other matters the director will consult with the highest ranking available officer of the board.Reports
The board will review the annual report to the community which Mr. Hasskarl has prepared and will comment on it and approve it at the May meeting.  Mr. Make feels that future reports should be reformatted and rewritten to be more in line with how the school board prepares its annual report.

Fundraising

Mr. Socolow brought up the topic of establishing a Library Foundation to raise money.  It would be a 501C entity with its own board and by-laws.  After some discussion it was decided further information should be gathered and this topic discussed again.  Mr. Hasskarl is gathering information from two other libraries that have foundations.


Chappaqua Library Board Meeting Mar. 23, 2006

Board Members Present: John Sorice, Stanley Kurzban, Mitchell Make, Milan Tyler. Others Present: Gerri Carpino, Staff;  Carol Birch, Children's Services Department Head; Jo Lunetta, Staff; Paula Payard, Staff; Carolyn Reznick, Staff

Special Budget Meeting

The meeting was called to approve the library budget.  The budget for 2006-2007 increased by 4.8%.  It was unanimously approved.

Public Comment 

Carol Birch went on record to say that she was very disappointed that she was not allowed to give a comment during the previous Board meeting when the budget was discussed.  She also wanted publicly say that Z. Baird was very disappointed that after 6 years of experience she was making only $1.00 more per hour than the newly hired librarian. Mr. Make responded that although it seems unfair, salary discrepancies occur across all industries. There seems to be no clear answer as to how to make it equitable.


Chappaqua Library Board January 17th, 2006

Board members present: John Sorice, Stanley Kurzban, Brian Socolow, Mitchell Make, Milan Tyler
Others present: Library Director Mark Hasskarl; Children’s Services Department Head Carol Birch; Lou Ciabattoni, Friends; George Rosamond of Lothrop Associates; Siobhan Reardon, WLS Director; Judith Rovenjer, WLS Youth Services; Charles Antonaccio, FCL; staff members Gerri Carpino, Jo Lunetta, Barbara LeSauvage, Paula Payard, Deb Donaldson, Carolyn Reznick, Martha Alcott, Miriam Budiu, Margaret Cullen, Zahra M. Baird, Susan Mosher, Teresa Baneti, Bob Wolff, Ken Parise,Gwen Guthrie, Tracey Jackson, Cathy Paulsen, Ginger Ramsey, and Don Lunetta, Barbara Cohen Dee, Dennis MacDougall, George Benack, Tim Baira, Edward Mosher, Janet Himel

Renovation Project

Mr. Rosamond from Lothrop presented a summary of the bids received for the project; 12 general contractors, 4 electrical, 4 plumbing and 6 HVAC contractors. Three of the four lowest bidders are well known to Lothrop. However, in addition to getting references for the unknown bidder, they will also get references for those that they know. They will look at the financial statements of each and have one more face-to-face meeting with each to go over the scope of the project to ensure each bidder fully understands the scope. Lothrop will make a recommendation to the Board within two weeks and, once Board approval is received, will begin working on contracts and insurance bonds. Work will start once materials are received with an estimated ground breaking for end of April or May. There are a number of alternates in the bids which the Board looked at. They voted to approve alternate A2, A3, E1 and H1. They voted no to A4. A1 and A5 are pending. The Friends said their fundraising efforts will depend upon the schedule for construction. In order to maximize success, they will do targeted fundraising so they need to know exactly what they will be raising money for and how much. Ms. Resnick is getting quotes for the furniture needed.

Finance

The Board approved last month’s auditor’s report, the December statements after some discussion, the Capital Fund reports, and the January bills. The Board voted to have two signatures on each check. Those under $1000 could be signed internally and those over $1000 had to have one Board member’s signature. They also noted that bills should be paid a few days before they are due to maximize use of funds. Buildings and Grounds Dennis MacDougall presented two options for better parking lot lighting: to extend the height of the existing light poles or to add more lights. He will pursue pricing on both but noted that the zoning board should be contacted to ensure that there are no issues with either option. Mr. Hasskarl will follow up with the zoning board. Mr. Sorice put forth the need to update the 5-year long-range plan on an annual basis. The existing plan will be reviewed with the objective to have a final document in place by July 1st.

Press Policy

The Board discussed whether a policy was needed for talking to the press. Mr. Hasskarl will research if other libraries have such a policy.

Reports

The library had a circulation milestone in 2005: over 400,000 items for the first time in its history. Mr. Sorice suggested that each department head be invited to give a 10-minute presentation to the Board about their department. The goal would be to foster communication between the Board and the department heads. Mr. Hasskarl will schedule these throughout the year at meetings where there is a light agenda.

Salary Committee Study

This was a very large meeting because there were many individuals who wanted to speak during the public comment section about the salary committee’s study and subsequent inaction.

Background to Salary Discussion (based on minutes from 11/29) A Salary Committee worked for nine months to address the salary structure of library employees. According to the minutes of a special meeting held on November 29th, the committee, consisting of both on-board and off-board members, unanimously approved their report at a September 17th committee meeting. The library board was expected to vote on the Committee’s report at the November 29th special meeting. However, a member of the Salary Committee stated concerns about the off-scale portion of the report. Since the report had been approved in its entirety on September 17th, the Board felt it could not approve the report with this exception and so adjourned without approval.

Public Comment: Salary Discussion The public comments came from both library staff and from residents of New Castle.

Staff Comments: The comments from the staff can be summarized as follows. They were very appreciative of the work the committee had done. However, they felt the Board did not listen to their concerns in November and they expressed disappointment that no action to move forward had been taken. They reiterated that their salaries significantly lag behind other libraries in Westchester and this needs to be changed if they are to attract new employees and if they are to retain long-term employees. One employee cited the departure of the former Head of Children’s Services as an example of losing valued, long-term employees. The high cost of living in Westchester is adding to the concern of attracting and retaining valued employees. For example, in the new plan an employee with 10 years of experience reaches a cap and does not get an increase for another 4 years (over half of the staff has worked for 10 years or more). Again the staff stated they were disappointed that the November 29th Board meeting “fell apart” and they urged the Board to make it work.

Resident Comments: The residents who attended made emotional pleas to the Board to take action. They commented on the great staff, their incredible knowledge and their unique talents which makes our library unique. People move to Chappaqua because of the great schools and the library is an adjunct of the schools. They felt the library is a cultural and educational resource center of high caliber because the staff, many of whom hold secondary degrees, are of such high caliber. Again, they urged the Board to take action. Mr. Sorice thanked everyone for their comments and said both the Salary Committee and the Board recognize the concerns of those present and recognize that an adjustment to salaries needs to be made. He too expressed disappointment that the committee member withdrew his support at the moment the plan was to be approved. Mr. Socolow commented that the Board realizes that they deal not only with bricks and mortar but that they also deal with people. He felt proud to be working on the Committee and felt proud of the work he had done to make the salaries of the Chappaqua Library employees more competitive. He cautioned against a “Board vs. staff” mentality as this was not the intent of the committee.


Chappaqua Library Board December 20th, 2005

Board members present: John Sorice, Stanley Kurzban, Brian Socolow
Others Present: Library Director Mark Hasskarl, Children's Services Department Head Carol Birch, staff members Gerri Carpino, Jo Lunetta, Barbara LeSauvage, Paula Payard, Auditor Victor Cannistra, Lou Ciabattoni

Finance

Approved the November statements after some discussion. The Capital Fund reports and the December bills were approved.

The auditor presented his report which said he is prepared to give an “unqualified approval” to the financial statements. He also discussed his concern about cash fines received and the possible risk of fraud. Options were discussed to lower the risk.

Cash out was also mentioned as a risk but this will be discussed next month when the full Board will be present.

Buildings and Grounds

Repair of the pond fence and concrete walls were completed during the week of November 28th. The wood soffit on the exterior of the building will be repaired when the weather is warmer. The hot water pump in the staff room air handler was replaced during the week of November 28th. Dennis MacDougall will attend the meeting next month to address the parking lot lighting issue.

Expansion and Renovation Project

The building permit was received. Bids were sent to 12 general contractors, 4 mechanical engineers, 4 electricians and 2 plumbers. The cut off to receive bids is January 10th at 4pm. No bids are opened until after the cutoff. A walk thru is scheduled for January 4th. The Friends have a few fundraisers in mind to help with the cost of furnishing the library after the renovation. These include a Sudoku puzzle contest and a cocktail party with silent auction.

The Friends are still in need of a location for their annual Book Sale. They will contact local schools as well as the Catholic church.

Personnel Parking

Staff parking is still an issue because Jerry Faiella said no spots are available at the train station. This will need to be addressed when the whole downtown parking isse is discussed. Other ideas included contacting the school board to see if teacher spaces can be used during non school times. Bell School will be contacted to see if their parking lot is available as a summer solution.


Chappaqua Library Board Nov. 15th, 2005

Board members present: Mitchell Make, Milan Tyler, John Sorice, Stanley Kurzban, Brian Socolow
Others present: Library Director Mark Hasskarl, Carol Birch, Children's Services Department Head; Dennis McDougall, Building Consultant; staff members Gerri Carpino, Carolyn Reznick, Jo Lunetta, Barbara LeSauvage, Zahra Baird

Finance

Approved the October statements after some discussion. The Capital Fund reports and the November bills were approved.

Westlynx Migration

to the new Windows-based product with added enhancements for patrons should be implemented no later than Columbus Day 2006.

Buildings and Grounds

Mr. MacDougall discussed the proposals received to repair the pond fence and concrete walls. The Board approved a proposal from C. Apollonio. He also advised the Board that the theatre lights would be installed within a few weeks. The Board also accepted a proposal to fix the wood soffit on the exterior of the building. The Board discussed a request from Pastor Mason of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin to pay for damage to his son’s car when a library tree fell on it after a storm. Although the library is not liable for the damage, the Board agreed to pay $500 in an effort to preserve the good relationship between the Church and the Library. The Board approved a proposal to replace a hot water pump in the staff room air handler. Ms. LeSauvage stated that parking lot lighting near the theatre entrance was insufficient, especially for during the renovation when this entrance will become the main entrance. Mr. Hasskarl will look into both interim and long term solutions and report back to the Board.

Expansion/Renovation Project

The NYS Department of Education had some questions on the mechanical aspects of the project. The architects are addressing the questions but this has delayed the start for about a month. Therefore, internal library programs can be scheduled in Jan/Feb and possibly outside programs for Jan.

Personnel

Mr. Make asked for comments concerning the report of the Salary Study Committee. Both Ms. Baird and Ms. Birch thanked the comittee for its work and commented that it was important to keep library salaries competitive and to have a cost-of-living adjustment for employees whose salaries have moved off scale. Mr. Make stated that the Board was to have an Executive session to discuss the report. Mr. Hasskarl will ask Chief Breen and Jerry Faiella to assign 12 spaces at the Chappaqua Train Station for library staff. The 4 hour parking limit on So. Greeley Avenue cannot be eliminated only for staff so this is no longer an option.

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Updated Oct. 27, 2009 by Valerie Castleman

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