Belmar Library Prepares for Historic Window Replacement

The Belmar Library Board of Trustees recently convened to discuss several issues, with the window replacement project taking center stage. Alongside this, the trustees focused on strategic planning, community engagement, and programming, including the establishment of a Spanish bilingual collection and a College and Career section, as well as the handling of rare books in the library’s collection.

The window replacement discussion revealed trustees’ anticipation for the long-awaited improvement to the library’s infrastructure. Despite frustrations over delays related to fabrication issues, the board is looking forward to observing the installation. Members of the board will receive email notifications to witness the process.

In efforts to enhance strategic planning and community engagement, the board deliberated on diverse outreach strategies to gather input from residents. The initial proposal to mail postcards was met with skepticism due to cost concerns and potential inefficacies. Alternative methods, like attending local events, utilizing social media, and employing door hangers, were discussed. Trustees noted approximately 50 responses to a community survey, considering this a positive start, and debated the use of direct phone outreach with provisions for Spanish-speaking participants, as well as incentivizing survey participation with QR codes offering extra pizza slices at events.

The board also recounted the library’s events calendar, including a summer concert series and living history presentations, expressing the need to find larger venues due to popularity. The discussion included feedback mechanisms for events and marketing strategies, like distributing postcards at the Taylor Pavilion and coordinating with the Department of Public Works.

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An uplifting anecdote from the meeting involved a man who returned a book to the library after 25 years, which had been taken to Europe and back. The trustees were so moved by the story that they returned the book to him as a keepsake.

The meeting also touched on the library’s collection management, emphasizing the benefits of leasing books to maintain a current and manageable collection size. The trustees considered the library’s collection to be around 9,000 to 10,000 titles, a comfortable range for the space. The trustees discussed the expansion of the Spanish bilingual collection and the College and Career section, recognizing the importance of these resources for community members.

The library’s programming was also a topic of interest, with a detailed overview of planned events for the year, discussing their costs and scheduling. Events like the Irish Celebration and soda bread contest were highlighted, along with author talks and a living history series. The trustees considered the success of past programming, citing increased attendance and the quality of events as key factors.

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Maintenance issues were also addressed, such as recent damage to the library’s exterior plexiglass caused by wind, and the importance of proactive event calendar sharing with the DPW to prevent future incidents. The board discussed the memorial clock’s engraving and the handling of rare books.

Financial reporting and budget considerations were a portion of the meeting, with the board examining the upcoming window contract and its implications for the 2024 budget. The treasurer presented financial reports, and it was confirmed that reserve funds would cover the window replacement costs. Discussions regarding employee compensation led to a motion and approval for a 2% salary increase for library staff. The board recognized the need for a more structured HR program, including performance reviews, to ensure staff members meet expectations. A commitment was made to present a review form and job descriptions at the next meeting.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Gerald Buccafusco
Library Board Officials:
Gerald Buccafusco (Mayor), James Alvarez (Superintendent, Belmar Elementary School), Maria Rondinaro (Mayor’s Alternate), Danielle Arnold (Superintendent’s Alternate), Sharon Russell Fowler, Michael Schappert, Patricia Hutchinson, Darlene Havens, Bruce Blattner, Kathleen Casserly, Johanna Roper-Robinson

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