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Plainview-Old Bethpage Library Board Discusses Finances

The Plainview-Old Bethpage Library Board of Trustees held their monthly meeting on April 20 in room C&D of the library. The major topic was the upcoming budget vote and general library finances.

Currently, the library is planning to propose a budget of $6,583,900 to be voted on at the May 17 election. $6,180,150 of the total number will be raised by taxpayers. Although the number may seem daunting to some, the board believes that the figure is a fair one, they explained. The only portion of significant increase lies in the money allocated to employee benefits.

“This is a tight budget,” trustee Michael Polansky said. “We did very well.”

The proposed budget represents a 1.8 percent increase over last year’s, costing households with a fair market value of $400,000 $7.57 per year. The library will hold a public budget hearing on May 4.

Aside from presenting the current draft of the proposed budget, library director Gretchen Browne explained why the library is over budget in the reference department, with a quarter of the fiscal year left on the calendar. This is due to an increase in the price of office supplies.

“It’s not so much the paper and the copies,” Browne said of the rise in expenses. “It’s the cartridges.”

The wireless Internet system within the library was recently upgraded and has been greeted with rave reviews, according to Browne. The upgrade features a new main connection and different access points. This will allow patrons to connect to the Internet from virtually every point within the library.

“It’s long overdue,” Browne said. “Despite the price, it was money well spent.”

The library is also considering making online program registration available. Although the idea has raised some question marks as to how online registration would affect the ability to control registration requirements, the library appears to be going through with it. “We truly believe that we can surmount all of those obstacles and offer online registration,” Browne said. 

While online registration may pose a problem in the future, a current problem is the lack of cancellations for those who fail to attend library programs that require prior registration, specifically in the family center. To combat this, a three-strike rule has been adopted.

Under the new policy, families who do not show up to family center programs that require registration and fail to cancel twice will receive a warning. A third offense will result in the family being placed on a waiting list for all family center programs for three months. 

“Let’s say five people aren’t serious about it,” trustee Stefanie Nelkens said in support of the policy. “We’re paying hundreds of dollars for something to have empty spots that we have a waiting list for.”       

In a final bit of technological news, Browne informed the board that Amazon.com’s Kindle will be able to support the checking out of e-books later this year. Although this is considered a big step for libraries, details on how the system will function are still unknown.

The board will meet again on May 18 at 6:45 p.m.