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Vol. LXIV, No. 50
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010
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Public Library Recalls a Remarkable Year, Continues to Optimize Reduced Resources

Ellen Gilbert

The mayors of both municipalities were present at the Princeton Public Library Board of Trustees meeting last week to hear President Katherine McGavern thank them for their support over the past year. Along with other board members, Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman and Township Mayor Bernie Miller also received copies of Library Director Leslie Burger’s annual report to Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi and Township Administrator Jim Pascale describing the year’s accomplishments and goals for 2011.

“2010 was another challenging year for the library as we continue to cope with the impact of the economic downturn,” Ms. Burger began. The good news is that despite facing a $100,000 decrease in the overall budget, the library managed to provide the same level of service.

“People continued to use the library as a no-cost alternative for entertainment, information, and communications,” said Ms. Burger. “We maintained our 72 hours per week of service, held even on our expenditures for library materials, and stepped up our efforts to assist the unemployed and job seekers, new immigrants, youth, and seniors.”

The highlight of the year was the library’s centennial celebration on the weekend of October 9 and 10 that included an appearance by NPR’s Terry Gross and an evening gala.

“Key to the celebration was the notion that we would complete our Centennial Fund campaign, $10 million in gifts in pledges for our first-ever endowment by October 10,” Ms. Burger noted. “We started the year very short of our $10 million goal but as the year went on, through a well-executed campaign of cultivation events, public events, a community-wide mailing, many one-on-one meetings, and a final push in the last 30 days to raise $25,000 a day, we achieved our goal just in time.”

Other impressive numbers that weekend included a reported 4,500 people in attendance on October 10, and the distribution of 1,800 cupcakes in 22 minutes.

Another noteworthy success this year was the Friends’ recent book sale. At last week’s meeting, Friends President Ellen Pitts noted that, in addition to the money raised at the October sale, an overflow of materials led to a separate, one-day sale of audio-visual materials that netted enough to set a new sales record. The library’s used book store continues to thrive, said Ms. Pitts, and, all told, the library will have raised an unprecedented sum on the strength of what book sale co-chair Sherri Garber calls “a great community recycling program.”

The theme of the library’s goals in 2011 is once again “doing more with less,” said Ms. Burger

“It will be a particularly difficult year as we realize the impact of reductions in state aid at the local level and the new cap laws that limit municipal spending,” she observed.

Measures that will help provide for continued service to the community 72 hours a week include reviewing the library’s internal practices to ensure that it is “working smarter and documenting processes”; leading the transformation of content from print to digital in a way that responds to customers’ needs; and refreshing the library space “in response to six years of heavy use and changing demands.” Since it opened in 2004, more than five million people have visited the Princeton Public Library.

A new issue of the library’s magazine, Connections, describing Winter 2010-11 activities, is available in print at the library or online at

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be on Tuesday, January 18, at 5:30 p.m.

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