Although most attention will be on public school budgets in May 18 voting, The Community Library has a budget going to the public, also.
The Library is asking public approval for a 2011 budget of $223,550. Although it’s on the same ballot as the Cobleskill-Richmondville school budget, the two are unrelated.
The Library’s proposed budget is up about $21,000 from this year’s budget because of rising costs in personnel and building and equipment.
Even though costs are rising, officials believe the budget is still a good deal for what the Library provides.
“It’s a wonderful facility. . .the treasure of the town,” said Peter Bent, president of the Library board of trustees. “It’s a wonderful feature of downtown Cobleskill.”
While costs are rising, so is usage. Circulation was up 16 percent in 2009, with increases in both adult and children sections.
“It’s up universally,” said Librarian Christine Dickerson. “Everything’s up––adult fiction, kids’ books, DVDs, and computer use is way up. Inter-library loan is up 30 percent.”
As Ms. Dickerson indicated, the Library is more than books. Computers are available to use, and many people borrow DVDs, CDs and other materials.
Last year, the Library also offered 35 adult programs––from Congressman Paul Tonko’s town hall meeting to a poetry workshop––and 31 children’s programs, including story hours, movies, a chess club and more.
“Considering the educational and recreational resources the Library offers, it’s a keystone of the community,” Ms. Dickerson said.
And then there’s the building itself. The Library did a major renovation in 2007-08, completely updating the old Union Street School that was built in the 1880s.
“Taxpayers put a lot of money into this building, and as trustees, we have the obligation to maintain it,” Mr. Bent said.
“I’d hate to defer maintenance and see it decline.”
He admitted that with the economy in a weak condition, now is a difficult time to ask for a budget increase. But Mr. Bent pointed out that average cost of the Library budget per household is about $21.50.
“That’s not even the cost of a new book,” Mr. Bent said. “This budget maintains the Library and allows it to grow. It’s for the community.”
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Also on the Library ballot are two trustees running for election, Harriet Berard and Ruth E. Ashworth. There’s also a slot for a write-in candidate.