Fanwood Library Presents to Council Agenda Meeting

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Dan Weiss, Director, Fanwood Library
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FANWOOD – At Tuesday night’s Fanwood Council Agenda Meeting the Fanwood Memorial Library presented their Strategic Plan to the board.

Mayor Colleen Mahr introduced the topic by saying “I am very pleased tonight, after several months of the library really focusing on this and what probably feels like several years of talking about where the library is going… to have you here tonight so that you can see all your new council for 2013 and your council can see you.” In the audience there was more than a dozen members of the Friends of the Library and the Library Board.

Katherine Balch, one of the newest library trustees and a board member of the Friends of the Library for about 25 years, worked on the plan, first creating a draft and finally a version that went to Mayor Mahr last December. Ms Bahr said that a strategic plan is needed as demand is up and funding is down. “What we aim to accomplish tonight is to familiarize you with where we are, where we need to go so that we will all be on the same page to open a dialogue to explore solutions.”

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Mr. Shelly Ross, President of the Fanwood Library Board of Trustees, expressed his desire to “get some feedback from the council and from the mayor regarding what we think is appropriate as a road forward to maintain a library in a community the size of Fanwood, but also with a passion for learning and for knowledge that this community exhibits…”

Some of the issues that were sighted as needing to be addressed included the condition of the building, which is old, small and in need of renovations. Renovations are needed for energy efficiency, accessibility and modernization. The building is not ADA compliant and can’t accommodate walkers, wheelchairs or strollers.

Mr. Ross mentioned the computers which are “on their last legs”, PC dos, independent, small and old. Public computer use increased 13% from 2011 to 2012, which equates to 5,500 sessions.

Dan Weiss, who has been the library director for 15 years, feels the strategic plan is a beginning to finding an effective way forward. Mr. Weiss said that funding is down. State aid is down 63% since 2005. Municipal funding is down 10% since 2009. “We continue… to share services with Scotch Plains library… but there is no guarantee that the arrangement will last forever.”

The Alternative Press interviewed Dan Weiss, who said that right now there were “no solutions or suggestions. The hope is that there is acknowledgement by the council of the challenges we face. The library board has been working hard on the Strategic Plan, mission statement, and vision.” They are currently working on a new logo, rebranding the library, and making revisions to the website. They plan on reaching out to an architect to help identify options regarding the building, but there are no plans or ideas at this moment.

At the council meeting Mayor Mahr said that she would “love to see where a partnership takes us, to delve into that more, to be more collaborative”. The Mayor suggested that the council create subcommittees and hold work sessions. And that there are specific driven conversations regarding the budget issues. The Strategic plan could be broken down so that there were focused meetings with the professionals that are best suited for the topics. The goal would be to develop solutions and action items.

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