Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 21
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
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Decreased Materials Budget Coincides With Decline in Library Use; Book Sales Thrive

Ellen Gilbert

A diminished materials budget may account for a drop in “gate count” numbers at the Princeton Public Library during the early part of 2009. The library accumulates both “gate count” numbers — people entering the library itself — and “door count” statistics — those who simply enter the building.

At last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, Director Leslie Burger reported that the materials budget had decreased this year from $213,000 to $183,000 and, coincidentally, that the numbers of people using the library had gone down during the winter months, a surprising turn of events, she said, in light of nationwide reports of increased library use, as a result of the troubled economy, during the same months.

While February numbers may have been related to patrons’ disappointment in not finding materials the library is now unable to purchase because of budget cuts, Ms. Burger said that she felt almost certain that the current closing of the library’s café for renovations would be reflected in a decreased door count for this month. “It’s completely changed the tenor of the building,” she said of the closing. “There is a lot more life to what’s going on in the library when the café is open.” The café is scheduled to reopen on May 29.

The Board also speculated on whether the Borough’s impending change to charging for Sunday parking at meters would have an impact on library traffic.

In other updates, the library’s sale of “gently used books” proved to be a noteworthy success at both Communiversity and in the expanded book sale space on the library’s first floor. Friends of the Library President Pamela Wakefield reported that Communiversity sales amounted to over $500, and that April had been “the best month ever” in library-based sales, earning over $500 more than the previous high for any month.

Ms. Wakefield also reported that the library’s annual appeal is “going well; people love this library and support it.” She reminded the Board of the Friends’ annual fundraiser on November 20, featuring Calvin Trillin, who will be introduced by John McPhee. Barbara Johnson is the honorary chair of the event.

Trustees who attended a recent “trustees institute” composed of representatives of boards from across the country reported that the Princeton Public Library was frequently held up as an example of “best practices” in library operations.

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