OBSERVER CORPS REPORT, JUNE 2020
Although a comedy of errors in this first year as an observer prevented me from attending - in person or virtually - too many meetings of the Library Trustees, what I have observed is impressive. This year’s trustees are Sylvia Szulkin, Chair, Judy Fenwick Vice Chair, Kathy Recording Secretary, and Margo Finnell Treasurer, Lindsay Hopewood, Corresponding Secretary, Jennifer Alai and Kathie Mount. Library Directors Linda Collins and Jennifer Woodward also attend and report to the Board.
The Board adheres strictly to the Open Meeting Law; any one is welcome to attend the monthly meetings However, in this spring of COVID-19, the meetings have been conducted virtually. The agenda is available for the public to see on the town of Falmouth website through the link to the Library. Any one wishing to attend virtually can find the pertinent information in the agenda on the website. Minutes of the Board meeting are also available on the website to any one wishing to see more details about the work of the Trustees.
In their role as trustees, the Board members reflect the best practices of good citizens. They take their responsibilities to the patrons of all three Falmouth libraries seriously and to the town in general. Every proposal that comes before the Board is carefully considered. Many questions are raised but the end goal is to make sure that whatever proposal is approved meets a high standard of what is best for the community. This spring there have been special requests for use of the Library Lawn while local restaurants remain closed. One has been to provide half a dozen picnic tables where people could gather to eat take-out meals. The Board raised questions about maintaining social distancing, adhering to the no-alcohol use on the lawn, disposal of trash, clean up, signage specifying the rules for the benefit of the public. Witnessing the thoughtful work of the trustees, I feel I am seeing the very best examples of public servants. It is a privilege to witness how much the Board has the interests of the town government, businesses, library patrons and the Falmouth public in general.
This year the Board endorsed several important projects. Refurbishing of both the North and East Falmouth libraries were undertaken. Because of COVID-19, Director Collins and her staff have had to plan for each phase of re-opening the libraries. Phase I, now underway, provides for outside pickup of books requested on line. Phase II should begin soon and patrons will be able to browse in the Falmouth library maintaining social distancing, but will not be able to stay inside to read. A new proposal to be considered is to rejuvenate the bricks project. There have been many requests from patrons wishing to buy personalized bricks for the library entrances and walkways.
At each meeting, there are reports from the Friends of the Falmouth Public Library and the Support Fund, which provides funding for special projects. In June, Leonard Miele, head of the Friends, reported that a suitable memorial for Marilyn Sanborn, founder of the Friends, would be made once public gatherings were again possible. Through a frequently encountered error in this age of Zoom, Bob Ripley was unable to present the Support Fund report.
Other important tasks the Library will be addressing soon are preparing the 2020-21 Trustees Budget, resuming collaboration with community groups for use of Library facilities, guidelines for use of outdoor spaces at all three Falmouth libraries, and preparing a new five-year strategic plan which is due in October, not July because of COVID-19.
As part of the June meeting, the Board elected new officers for 2020-21 ; Judy Fenwick Chair, Sylvia Szulkin Vice-Chair, Kathy Elder Secretary, Margo Finnell Treasurer. The Board agreed to request that the Town of Falmouth provide a paid minute taker, which the Board is entitled to do, especially given the many tasks and questions addressed in every meeting.
In closing, the League of Women Voters and the Town of Falmouth in general have every reason to be grateful for the very evident commitment of the Falmouth Public Library Board of Trustees and of the Directors to providing the very best service to this community.
Marcia Easterling, LWVF Observer