Huntington Public Library Cuts Friday Evening Hours To Save A Buck!

Filed under: Huntington,News,OPINION |

To whom it may concern,

I was outraged to read in the most recent newsletter from the Huntington Public Library that the Huntington Public Library Board has decided to close the main branch of the library on Friday evenings, starting on July 1st, in order to “maximize cost effectiveness.” This is not Summer hours, this is the proposed year-round schedule. This plan is part of the proposed budget for 2013-2014 that was detailed in the newsletter that I received in the mail on March 13th.

Shortly after that I received an email from Michael Bogin, director of the Huntington Public Library, on Friday, March 15th to announce a meeting of the Board on Tuesday, March 19th to discuss the proposed budget, a meeting I could not attend on such short notice due to prior commitments. The library 2013-2014 budget vote will be held on April 16th, conveniently before the next board meeting, thereby cutting off any reasonable objections that taxpaying residents may have.

The proposed cut in service hours was buried in an article titled 2013-2014 PROPOSED LIBRARY BUDGET. The introduction of this article talks about how the board chose not to exceed the NYS Tax Levy Cap of 2%. The article goes on to cite the financial challenges of participating in NYS Employee Retirement System, increased premiums in the NYS Health Insurance Plan, and increases in contractual salary obligations for its employees, as the main reason for their budgetary difficulty.  Yeah, that’s the big problem with the budget, those overpaid librarians. This is surprising after seeing recently proposed plans this Fall for a renovation of the library, a library that was very extensively and expensively renovated 12 years ago, and which seems more than adequate, as is, for the average user. From those plans I’d get the impression that the library was awash in money. There is also sufficient funding available to station a library employee in the lobby as a “greeter,” probably the most asinine use of taxpayer dollars in the Town of Huntington. These unfortunate “greeters” have the useless job of sitting in the lobby and saying hello to people as they come in, rather than performing a useful task inside. They usually look as completely uncomfortable as they make me feel. Does anyone need to be greeted to use a library? It’s not Abercrombie and Fitch. The professionals who work at our library are very helpful to anyone who comes in and asks for help. It hurts my soul to see such capable people misused, and it offends me that the board would see this as a useful function, while at the same time voting to cut service hours.

I don’t know where the statistics came from that determined there was not enough “actual usage” to warrant keeping the library open Friday night. In my experience Friday is a busy night at the library. I have gone there with my family most Friday nights for the last 13 years. There are people in every section, at the computers, sitting in the periodical room. There’s usually an event in the meeting room, in fact I had to squeeze my way in tonight past a crowd going to see a performance. As a working parent Friday night is the most convenient time for me to use the facilities. In a two-income family daytime hours are usually at a premium. Cutting evening hours is just as good as closing for the day to me. Those three hours are a small part of the big picture to the library, but they are everything to me. What happens to all those programs that are held on Friday nights? Those are the only programs I can attend. When they voted to close the library on Sundays in the Summer I understood, but this is too much. What will they cut next?

I pay my taxes and in return I expect reasonable use of the facilities. I also expect to have my objections heard. I disapprove of the shady, surreptitious dealings that have been employed by the board and Library Director Michael Bogin to limit protest.  I urge all Huntington residents to turn out on April 16th and vote down the budget until those hours are restored. Send a letter to the Huntington Public Library Board, c/o the Huntington Public Library main branch, to protest this decision, and find out which candidates for Trustee understand the importance of usable library hours.


Patricia McKenna-Bausch

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