HAMPSTEAD – With Hampstead Public Library Meeting Room Policy stating that library meeting rooms “are only available during regular library hours. All use of the meeting rooms must begin after the library has opened to the public and must be cleared by the scheduled closing time,” the Trustees have been wrangling with how that plays out.
When regularly scheduled library programs such as an evening movie take place, they routinely don’t end until after the library has closed, but because such an event is sponsored by the library, a staff member is automatically present. However, a May 11 community forum on substance abuse, held at the library at 6:30 p.m., was well attended and had reached a discussion point when it had to be brought to a close, with attendees asked to leave, at the library’s official closing time.
The forum was not sponsored by the library. If a non-library sponsored program is being held after hours, a library employee must remain in the building, costing the library money in salary.
At the June Trustees meeting, a discussion took place over the policy and whether it sends a mixed message to the public. The Trustees were still struggling with the issue at their July meeting.
One suggestion was that a staff member who drew extra time for staying at a non-sponsored meeting should have that time cut from her normal duties. Assistant Library Director Merrily Samuels noted, however, that if that happened, the staff person’s duties would have to be covered by someone else.
Also suggested was requiring all programs, including those sponsored by the library, to end when the library closes for the day. That would, however, require Janet Arden, Adult Programming Coordinator, to change many of her programs, whose times were established to take into account when interest and attendance would be highest.
Long-time Trustee Emily Reschberger focused on what she called the “perception” in the community about the inconsistent ending time of programs. Newly hired Library Director Rosemary Krol said that providing meeting space is not the core of what the library does but Reschberger said that more and more, the community looks to the library to be the community meeting place.
The policy was originally developed for non-library program use of the Meeting Room.
In a related matter, when the Friends of the Hampstead Public Library asked the Trustees whether they could use the Meeting Room for a fund raiser and charge attendees, noting the present policy prohibited charging a fee, the Trustees said it would be difficult to allow the Friends to do that and then refuse others.
Krol has found that some libraries allow their Friends’ groups to do this sort of activity. Reschberger said she was not in favor of it and considered it a “slippery slope.”
After a lengthy discussion of Meeting Room policy and the Friends’ query, the Trustees decided they could not make a decision and took no action. The issue was left to Krol to discuss with staff. She was asked to solicit input from employees on solutions for discussion at the next meeting.
In other business:
• The Trustees approved unanimously Krol’s recommendation to hire Sally Herlihy as the third custodian. Herlihy was one of the original applicants in January and her availability, knowledge of the library and interest led to Krol’s recommendation to hire her for two nights, four hours each night.
• A Homebound Program proposed by Trustee Al Cipriano was discussed, with no action taken. Krol confirmed that other libraries have such a program and provided documentation from the Kelly Library in Salem, the Griffin Free Public Library in Auburn, and the Goffstown Public Library, and information in Hampstead Library files where it was previously considered. Cipriano suggested this might be an opportunity for intergenerational cooperation.
• Trustees were alerted that the Hampstead Area Water Company waterline will be installed down Mary E. Clark Drive, at which time the library will be expected to tie into it. The Trustees asked Krol to get more information for budgeting.
• Reschberger asked what caused the Library Contracts line in the budget to be 13 percent overdrawn. Samuels said she would bring back the answer at the next meeting.
• The Trustees approved the staff looking into getting a new logo for the library, with information and costs brought to the next meeting.
• The Trustee approved holding their meetings the third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the Upstairs Meeting Room.