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Massena Library officials scrutinizing purchases

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MASSENA - With its budget tightening up, the director of the Massena Public Library says they may have to look more closely at their planned acquisitions in the future to see if they’re really necessary.

“Every penny counts. We really have to analyze all of our spending. I can’t in this day and age purchase a book that will only go out twice a year, especially non-fiction which are more expensive,” Elaine Dunne-Thayer said.

Library board members had agreed in November to make $10,000 in cuts to their 2013 budget and balance the remainder of the budget by dipping into their unreserved funds.

They agreed to take $5,000 from their library personal service line item and $5,000 from their library special projects line item to help cover a $22,720 hole in their 2013 budget, which was adopted by the Massena Town Council. The remaining $12,720 will be taken from their unreserved funds.

That left the library personal service line item at $246,811 and the library special projects line item at $5,000.

But it also allowed them to continue operating under their current hours with their current staff - at least for another year.

Trustees had warned in November that changes in revenue would have an impact on the way business was done in the future - and the future is now, according to Ms. Dunne-Thayer, who said they need to make sure their purchases are money that’s well-spent.

“When you’re building a library, you’re building a collection. I hate to have holes in the collection,” she said.

“We read book reviews, and we check the New York Times to see where (the book) is on the list. Libraries get decent prices from publishers on books, but we really have to think about every book we purchase. Is it something that will circulate? Is it something that will appeal to the Massena public? What’s a good purchase and what’s not? In a way it goes hand-in-hand with our reduced budget,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

“We don’t have the book budget we had. It’s time to think about what we’re buying. We will have best-sellers and non-fiction books in high demand,” she said.

If a book isn’t available at the Massena Public Library, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said they may be able to procure it from another library through the interlibrary loan system.

“We’re fortunate to have that system. We use that a lot,” she said.

As a way to help with their budget, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said they’re still looking for individuals, families or groups to “adopt” for a year one of the 3,000 periodicals they subscribe to, saving them that cost.

Whoever pays for a year-long subscription to the periodical will have their name noted on the periodical.

“That’s been going very well. I have probably a little more than half of the magazines already adopted. We’re reaching out to the community again, to really think about coming in and looking at our journals and offering to pay for a journal for a year,” she said.

If the library doesn’t carry a particular periodical that a person would like to adopt, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said they can review and request and possibly add it to their collection.

In the meantime, she said, “We had plenty more waiting for adoption. There are a few that people don’t read and we may have to cancel.”

They plan to attach some type of a note to the periodicals so people can check if they’ve read it and library staff can keep track of readership. If there’s not enough interest, she said, the subscription may be cancelled.

As the year progresses, they’ll also be looking at fundraisers that can help bring in money. They recently held a successful Christmas raffle.

“We have close to $800 on the raffle and on the memorial tree. The community loves its library. A big thank you to the community for supporting our fundraiser,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

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