Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 31
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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Financial Worries Threaten Future of Library Store

Ellen Gilbert

At the most recent meeting of the Princeton Public Library (PPL) Board of Trustees, Library Friends President Pam Wakefield reported that the Library Store, which offers items for readers and writers, including pens, desk accessories, note cards, card games, and jewelry, is losing money, and cannot continue in its present form. The store is currently run by the Friends and is staffed by volunteers.

Library Director Leslie Burger said that three possibilities for the store are currently under discussion. One solution might be a collaboration with the Arts Council, which is not allowed to have a gift shop on its premises. Another would be to lease the store to an outside bidder. A third option would be opening up the space to additional shelves for the Friends’ book sale.

It was announced that journalist Evan Thomas will be the featured speaker at the Friends’ annual benefit on October 24. He will be introduced by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. Speaking just ten days before the Presidential election, he will talk about covering the race. The event will be catered by “Feast Your Eyes” of Philadelphia.

Human resources specialist Bonnie Piper reported on responses to an “in depth” survey, including over 100 questions about leave policies, benefits, and retirement plans, that was sent to the Borough, Township, and Princeton Regional School district administrations, as well as about a dozen comparable libraries in the tri-state region. About 93 percent of the recipients responded, said Ms. Piper.

According to the survey, the library is “in line with our peer institutions, and with the Princeton schools, Borough, and Township,” said Ms. Burger. “There are a couple of areas that we need to take a closer look at,” she noted, but did not go into details. Although there had been no intention to share the survey results with library employees, board member Robert Ginsberg suggested that this would be a good idea. Ms. Piper agreed, saying that “people at the library think their benefits are good, so this will just reinforce that.”

Reference librarian Catherine Harper, who has worked at PPL for 17 years, described “Q and A,” which offers free online interactive search assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sponsored by the New Jersey State Library with Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, the service is provided by member libraries in the New Jersey Library Network. “Q and A” advertises itself as answering questions about anything, from “job hunting, health info, and landlord/tenant relations,” to “business, term paper topics, and song lyrics.”

Recent “green” efforts at the library, according to Ms. Burger, include the use of “kill-a-watt” meters to gauge — and respond to — undue use of energy of in the library; these meters are also available for patrons’ use. The installation of light sensors in specific locations and the addition of solar panels are under consideration, she reported. The answer to the apparently often-asked question of why the library’s lights are on at night, she said, is that cleaners are there from 9 p.m. to midnight. She emphasized the fact that “the building is dark when they are finished.”

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