Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 8
 
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
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Princeton Library Closes Books on Fiscal 2008; Several Programs Enjoy Noteworthy Success

Ellen Gilbert

The Princeton Public Library’s actual 2008 expenditures of $4,655,934 came within a few dollars of the $4,679,327 originally budgeted.

The breakdown of expenses, described at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, included $2,593,374 for salaries and wages; $782,457 for benefits; $87,961 for administrative costs; $188,179 for general operations; $480,705 for buildings and grounds; $377,490 for library materials, $145,768 for library materials, and $145,768 for technology. Areas where actual costs were lower than anticipated included benefits and administrative expenses. General operating costs, library materials, and technology all cost slightly more than anticipated, with buildings and grounds, originally budgeted at $465,000, showing the largest differential.

With the 2009 official budget still a work-in-progress, regular transfers of money are currently enabling the board to meet ongoing expenses. It was not known at last Tuesday’s meeting what, if anything, the federal government’s new economic stimulus package might offer public libraries. Director Leslie Burger, who recently returned from the mid-winter meeting of the American Library Association, said that libraries were hoping for money “specifically set aside to support renovation and construction, improved broadband access, and additional public access computing.”

The success of library programming was underscored in Ms. Burger’s report that some 45,500 people attended library events last year. With the failing economy driving people to libraries in record-breaking numbers, Ms. Burger noted that the Princeton Public Library is now “focusing our efforts on developing programs that address issues associated with the economy,” including presentations on career management, a three-part series on writing and working, and taking financial risks in an uncertain economy.

Staff members whose work was highlighted at Tuesday’s meeting included Lending Services’s Tom Hammel, who was introduced by Ms. Burger as “one of the friendliest and most welcoming” employees at the library. Mr. Hammel, who is attending library school at Rutgers in order to become a school media librarian, described the “Guys Read” program he facilitates each month; his work at the circulation desk; and his great pleasure working part-time in the children’s section of the library. Ms. Burger reported that Youth Services Department staff members Allison Santos and Susan Conlon were recently named “Movers and Shakers” by Library Journal (LJ). Ms. Santos was recognized for her work in connection with the Princeton Children’s Book Festival, and Ms. Conlon was cited for her work with the Princeton Environmental Film Festival. Both will be featured in LJ’s March 15 issue.

The next meeting of the library’s Board of Trustees will be on March 17. The board tentatively scheduled a three-hour “retreat” for Tuesday, April 21 where they plan to “clarify their objectives, goals, and operating practices.”

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