Library Reform Group

June 20, 2009

Library Update–June 20

Filed under: News — Patricia @ 10:09 pm

Dear library supporters,

Only a week and a half go until we open the PPL branches as PCL neighborhood libraries! We have accomplished much so far–with much left to do. We are fairly certain the libraries will open on July 1st, as planned, unless there are serious delays in the negotiations between PPL and the City to determine the status of the branch library buildings themselves.

But first for the good news.

The telephone network needs to be separated from PPL, and we have selected an excellent company to do this work. They assure us that they can set up our own telephone network with a minimum of disruption to staff and patrons, and they will be beginning their work next week.

The Celebration Committee has planned a gala event for July 1, with commemorative T-shirts for sale, events at all the libraries, and a ceremonial passing of new books from one library to another. Invitations will be going out soon. Attend the celebration at your local library and buy a PCL T-shirt!

The first round of the staffing process is drawing to a close, with nearly all of the positions in the neighborhood libraries filled. Although there were some unavoidable staffing changes, largely due to PPL’s having laid off a larger number of employees than PCL could accommodate, we are pleased to report that the staffing changes were fewer than we had anticipated. In fact, 100% of the same staff will remain at Mount Pleasant, Olneyville, Smith Hill, Washington Park, and Wanskuck.

The second round of the staffing process largely involves administrative positions. We have hired an excellent development director, Steven Kumins. Steve, who brings to the job his successful experience as the Development Director of Water Fire (2000-2004) and the Executive Director of the Pawtucket Armory Association (2004-2008). We are interviewing and on the cusp of hiring our Business Manager and the Human Resource director.

The Executive Director Search Committee has conducted a nationwide search and selected three finalists–from Massachusetts, Florida and California–to travel to Providence for interviews and to give public presentations. As soon as we have dates and locations for the presentations, we will let you know and we hope you will attend all of them.

Thanks for your help in finding us office space for our Technical Services department. Several people sent us suggestions and tips, and we have arranged to rent an office on Manton Avenue from Olneyville Housing Corporation. Thanks especially to Frank Shea and Ray O’Grady, of OHC, for their assistance and generosity.

The Friends Groups are continuing to strengthen and grow. South Providence and Washington Park Friends have taken a little while to get organized, but they are making good progress now. South Providence is having a Friends organizing meeting this Monday, and Washington Park Friends met last week. Wanskuck Friends held a successful book sale last Saturday. Mount Pleasant Friends has had great news. They were given a $2000 state grant for library programs last year; their state representative, Joanne Giannini was so pleased with their careful and effective spending of the money that she has recommended that they receive $3000 for this year! The Friends Council, composed of representatives from Friends Groups from across the City, has continued to meet and discuss common concerns. Their next meeting is scheduled for July 8.

All the Friends groups are selecting representatives for the PCL board, in time to attend the first board meeting at 5:30 on July 22 at Knight Memorial. Speaking of Board members, we are happy that the Governor has designated Mark McKenney as his representative on the PCL board; Mark has been a long-time advocate for library patrons–and for library staff–and we have always respected his comments and his votes on the PPL board.

Despite these many signs of progress, we must tell you that there are two major problems yet to be resolved.

The status of the library buildings themselves:

The City and PPL are continuing to negotiate over the fate of the branch buildings. According to the terms of the Library Agreement ratified last fall by the PPL Board of Trustees and the Providence City Council, the branch buildings would have been conveyed to the City in the case of the break up of the library system. This spring PPL declared that the Library Agreement was no longer in effect, even though it had been legally agreed upon by both parties. Lawyers for PPL and the City are working on a new agreement whereby the City would temporarily lease the buildings from PPL for a nominal amount, and PCL would in turn sublease the buildings from the City. Later on, PPL may agree to “convey” the buildings to City, so that the City would own them and then lease them to PCL. Whatever happens, we hope that PPL and the City can sign an agreement by July 1, as we cannot legally start operating our library system in the neighborhood library buildings until there is an agreement. Time is running short for resolving this issue.

Equipment needs:

We are still missing considerable equipment and furniture we will need to operate our libraries. We are again asking PPL to allow the technical and support employees who are coming to PPL to be permitted to bring “their” computers as well as other equipment and furniture related to their continued performance of services for branch patrons. This equipment, such as the book delivery truck, has been used for branch functions and as such we believe it should be given to PCL rather than left idle at Central.

A department that is crucial to keeping our libraries operating smoothly is the Maintenance Department. Our maintenance staff needs a considerable amount of equipment to help PCL get started, the most important of which is a flat-bed truck. PPL has only one such truck, and it is obviously impossible to divide it in half. If anyone can let us know of a truck we could purchase for PCL–at a fairly low price–we would be very grateful.

Our maintenance department is also going to need tools. Could anyone donate any of the following general tools? screw drivers, linesman pliers, plumbing pliers, pipe wrenches, a pipe cutter, sledge hammers, carpenter hammers, a nut driver set, a socket set, a wrench set, a pry bar, levels, a hand snake, wire strippers, a tube bender, t-squares, wire snips, trowels, a putty knife, a razor knife, c-clamps, a flexible conduit cutter, flashlights, drop lights, extension cords, propane torch, heavy-duty staple gun, electricial testers, plungers, and hacksaws. They also need a hand truck and 4-wheel dollies.

AND they need the following power tools: a screw gun, skill saw, table saw, jigsaw, hammer drill, power drill, power snake, wet/dry vac, power grinder, belt sander, palm sander, 6-gal air compressor and a chainsaw.

If you can provide us with any maintenance equipment, please let us know.

As you can see, there are a myriad of details involved in this transfer but with your continuing help we will pull it off!

Thanks,

Patricia

P.S. In case you haven’t written these dates yet on your calendar:

Monday, June 22, is the annual Spelling Bee, sponsored by NotAboutTheBuildings. It starts at 9 p.m. and will take place at AS220. It’s free to watch and only $5 to spell. (Come early if you plan to compete.)

The Books Through Bars read-a-thon starts tomorrow. For both of these events, see the NotAboutTheBuildings.website for details. http://www.notaboutthebuildings.com/

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