Library responds to petition

Published 9:56 am Thursday, August 31, 2017

MURFREESBORO – The Elizabeth S. Parker Memorial Library, located on Main Street in Murfreesboro, wanted the opportunity to further clarify information concerning a circulating petition, the reason behind a cut in the library’s operating hours, and what they were doing in response to it.

As stated in the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald article “M’boro petition ‘facts’ unfounded” in the August 26 edition, the Murfreesboro Town Council had learned about a circulating petition in response to the cut in operating hours at the library. During the meeting, they provided budget numbers to the public in an effort to explain that they had not cut any library funding.

The amount, which also included numbers for utilities and maintenance, added up to an estimated $102,724 from the town for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

During the meeting, the Town Council also noted that they do not set the hours of operation.

Jennifer Patterson, Director of the Albemarle Regional Library system (ARL), provided additional budget numbers and information in a statement to the News-Herald to clarify the situation regarding the library. Patterson oversees operations at the Elizabeth S. Parker Memorial Library as well as the six other branches of the ARL.

“The 2017-18 budget appropriation [from the town] is $90,000, a $2,520 increase from the previous fiscal year,” Patterson explained. “Although the town did approve an increase, the library is still short $3,802 from the minimum amount needed to fully fund the library.”

Contingency funds from the Albemarle Regional Library are being used to cover the remaining amount, Patterson noted.

“Library hours were cut in an effort to save the town money in hopes of being granted full requested funding in the future,” she explained.

In regards to the petition, Patterson acknowledged that they were well-aware of it and that library staff had already contacted citizens to respond to their concerns and take them into consideration. According to Patterson, usage statistics are calculated to determine the library’s hours of operations, and the hours that were cut were the least utilized.

“In an effort to save the town money and respond to the petition,” Patterson stated, “the library will be open until 8 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month and open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month starting in October.”

This is in addition to their normal operating hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, which took effect on July 1.

In response to Council member Bill Theodorakis’ request at the August 23 meeting for more statistical information from the library in the future, Patterson said both she and Parker Memorial Library Branch Manager Judy Hachey will provide information concerning programs, attendance, and computer usage during the annual budget meeting and more often as requested. Patterson previously offered up a brief summary of statistical data to the Murfreesboro Town Council during a regular meeting back in April.

“The library provides a valuable service to the community and we are more than happy to present this information to the Town Council and the community,” said Patterson. “The library strives to provide the citizens of Murfreesboro with the materials and services that they want and need to enhance their lives and support lifelong learning and education.”

As a member of the Albemarle Regional Library system, the Elizabeth S. Parker Memorial Library receives a number of materials purchased by ARL, including books, computers, printers, fax machines, copiers, audiovisual materials, and newspapers. Additionally, ARL subsidizes the cost of the library’s internet service as well as providing IT support, financial management, human resource services, cataloguing services, and courier services.

“We appreciate the continued support of the town of Murfreesboro, Town Council, and the community,” Patterson concluded.