64 Middlesex Ave. | Reading, MA 01867 | 781-944-0840

 Board Members

  • John Brzezenski, Chair (Term expires 2019)
  • Cherrie Dubois, Vice Chair (Term expires 2019)
  • Alice W. Collins, Secretary (Term expires 2018)
  • Andrew Grimes (Term expires 2018)
  • Nina Pennacchio (Term expires 2020)
  • Monette Verrier (Term expires April 2018)

Board of Library Trustees Bylaws

FY 2018 General Business Meeting Dates

Meeting Minutes

2016-2021 Reading Public Library Plan of Service

FY19 Budget FAQs

  • If the voters approve an override, how much money will go to the Library? How will it be used?

    On January 30, the Select Board voted to place a $4.15 million Proposition 2 ½ override on the April 3 ballot. If it passes, and Town Meeting votes to disburse the funds as the Town Manager has recommended, the Library will receive $127,329. The funds will be distributed as follows:
    $35,500.75 additional staffing
    $44,500staffing for Sunday hours
    $21,200library materials
    $1,300library programs
    $24,829Benefits & Capital (accommodated costs – not included in Library’s operating budget)
  • How much money is the Library asking for without an override?

    In FY18 the Library accounted for approximately 1.5% of the Town budget. At the December 13, 2017 Selectmen meeting, the Library director presented the Board of Library Trustees recommended FY19 budget of $1,651,515 which would restore Sunday hours from September through May from 1-5 pm, as well as bring back certain funding for materials, professional development and supplies.

    In the Town Manager’s proposed FY19 balanced budget, the Library’s revised request is $1,592,015, a 2.8% increase over FY18. This is a level services budget and cuts $59,500 from the Board of Library Trustees FY19 recommendation.
  • Why does the library need more money if this is “level services”?

    The Town appropriation pays for employee salaries, materials expenditures, and technology. These costs increase annually due to inflation.

    Over the years, we have consistently sought outside sources of funding to provide more than minimum or basic services. The Reading community asks for high quality programs and values the educational and cultural activities we provide. To meet this demand, we pursue grants, apply State Aid, and seek donations to the Reading Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Reading Public Library. These outside funds help pay for many of our programs such as Exam Cram and LiveWires continuing education for adults, as well as special equipment and materials, including the studio iMacs and design software.
  • Who controls the Library’s budget and hours?

    The Library is governed by an elected Board of Library Trustees, per MA General Law, Chapter 78 and the Reading Home Rule Charter. While budget and hours recommendations are made by the Library Director, in consultation with the Library’s leadership team and Town Manager, it is ultimately the decision of the Board to approve department budgets and hours of operation.
  • Why is the library closed on Sundays? Can’t you rearrange hours to get Sundays back?

    During the FY18 budget process, we were unable to provide level service – something had to be cut. The Board of Trustees and Library Director considered several options to address this issue. One of our biggest concerns was avoiding layoffs and reduction of any staff benefits. While Sundays were a busy service day, they were the most recently added hours (Oct 2008). Also, in accordance with our current pay structure, staff members are paid 1.5 overtime rate to work Sundays or holidays, therefore these are the most expensive hours to fund. In early 2017, the best option was to eliminate Sundays hours and maintain 60 hours Monday - Friday for FY18.

    We revisited the question of hours in planning for the FY19 year and asked for funding to restore Sunday hours. Unfortunately, that is not possible at this time.

    In light of this, the Board and Library Director will continue to evaluate circulation, program attendance, visitor/occupancy statistics, and reassess the current staffing and pay structure. We will also consider options for changing our open hours for the FY20 and FY21 future budgets.
  • I’ve heard we’re restricted in how we manage the budget and hours because we risk losing our Library’s certification. What does this mean?

    The Library is certified annually by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, a State oversight agency mandated by MA General Laws, section 78.
    In order to be certified the Town must:
    • Appropriate a certain amount of money to the library in each fiscal year budget to meet the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR). The amount must average to a 2.5% increase over a 3 year time period. Learn more about MAR and how it’s calculated at the MBLC website.
    In addition, the Library must:
    • Be open to all residents of the Commonwealth;
    • Make no charge for formal library services;
    • Be open a minimum number of hours per week;
      Minimum hours are determined by town population. Reading’s requirement (population over 25,000) is 59 hours/week, which includes 6 days, some morning, afternoon, and evening hours.
    • Hire a Director who meets specific professional requirements;
    • Meet the Materials Expenditure Requirement;
      Reading’s requirement (population over 25,000) is 13% of the municipal budget. The Board of Trustees recommends 14%.
    • Lend books and other materials to other libraries in the Commonwealth;
    • Complete State Aid application forms and the Annual Report Information Survey annually;
    • Report annually on the amount of nonresident loans and circulation.
  • Why do we want to be certified?

    Certification comes with important benefits; therefore, losing certification has negative impact on the Reading community. Benefits of certification include:
    • The Library receives State Aid monies, which can be used for library expenditures;
    • The Library receives reciprocal lending privileges with other libraries in the Commonwealth;
    • The Library is eligible to apply for grant money, including Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants.

      In 2012, the RPL was awarded $5.1 million for a LSTA Library Construction Grant to offset the $18.4 million renovation/expansion project.
      In 2013, the RPL was awarded the “Science is Everywhere” LSTA grant. Staff used these funds to create a year-long program of Curious Science education events for Reading elementary school students and to support our upper elementary science collection.
    If the library loses certification, we will lose State Aid monies and the ability to apply for grants to better serve our community. Our patrons will lose the ability to borrow materials from other area libraries.
  • Can the library use volunteers to fill positions?

    We use volunteers regularly; in fact, we average about 20 hours per week of volunteer time. We have a wide range of volunteers that include delivery drivers for our homebound patrons, teen Netguides that provide 1-to-1 instruction, indexers for the Reading newspapers, and much more. We take applications for volunteers, interview them and evaluate their knowledge, skills and abilities. If they match a current need, they are assigned specific tasks. Volunteers help us provide the high-quality service for which the RPL is well known! Unfortunately, many of our volunteers are not experienced or qualified to do certain library tasks, interpret and apply policy, or address safety, security and data privacy issues that our paid staff perform on a daily basis. Therefore, job substitution of volunteers for paid staff positions is not a feasible or advisable option. Volunteering for 1-2 hours a week is a wonderful commitment and way to give back to the community, and we greatly appreciate all of our hardworking volunteers.
  • Why did the town build a new Library?

    In 2008 a building assessment outlined major structural and accessibility issues of the Library. Among other things, the report outlined problems with the building envelope, masonry, roof and electrical systems. After reviewing several different options, the Board of Library Trustees pursued and was granted a LSTA Construction Grant to renovate and expand the Library. The building project would preserve a historical landmark and provide a 21st century learning space for the community. The Town of Reading was awarded a grant of $5.1 million in October of 2012, conditional upon the Town’s securing funding for the remaining project cost.
  • How much did the Library renovation/expansion project cost?

    After receiving the conditional $5.1 million construction grant, the project cost estimate was $14.9 million. In April 2013, 18.2% voter turnout approved this amount by a vote of 2096-1074 (66% yes). As the project began to move forward, additional problems were discovered and a newly established Library Building Committee determined that the previous estimate would not be enough. Consequently, at the next local election voters were asked to approve an additional $3.5 million, or a total of $18.4 million in April 2014. Turnout was higher at 25.0% and the vote was closer at 2429-1900 (56% yes). In both instances the vote legally needed to be for the cost of the whole project. In both cases the state grant of $5.1 million was included in the total cost estimate, with local voters to pay the difference. The final cost of the building was within $60,000 of the approved $18.4 million budget, the taxpayer share being $13.3 million.