Citing needs to hire full-time staff, increase pay for workers earning advanced degrees and compliance with wage standards in the state, the New Canaan Library is seeking a $2 million contribution from the town for next fiscal year.
The figure—$2,011,301 to be exact (see attached PDF)—represents a 3.8 percent increase over what taxpayers are contributing to the library this year.
Much of that is driven by requests for pay increases for full- and part-time staff, Susan LaPerla, the library’s interim co-director, said during a recent Board of Selectmen meeting.
“The reason for the request in compensation is to give us more room for our search for a new executive director and also there are a few people on staff who have earned professional library science degrees, and we try to comply with the minimum salary recommendations of the Connecticut Library Association, which is $26.50 per hour,” LaPerla said during the meeting, held Wednesday at the New Canaan Police Department.
The library also is seeking to make full-time the formerly part-time position of teen librarian—a job that mostly involves coordinating programming focused on a demographic that requires special attention.
The library “is not home and it’s not school [for teenagers],” she said. “It’s a place they can come for recreation, a safe place to socialize.”
Other libraries in the area have dedicated, full-time teen librarians.
Though the library operates as a private nonprofit organization under the guidance of a Board of Trustees, raising money from donors independently, the town long has contributed money to help it operate.
Selectmen raised questions about whether full-time library staff members draw on municipal benefits as regular town workers do (they don’t) and about the library’s own fundraising efforts.
First Selectman Rob Mallozzi praised the library for its usefulness in the wake of outages after Sandy hit last fall.
“I think it goes without saying how much this town appreciates and loves the library,” Mallozzi said. “You folks have really embraced the role of being a most welcoming institution in town and I do not think we could run the town in times of trouble without the library being such a close and warm partner.”
The library’s request now moves to the Board of Finance and finally, the Town Council, for inclusion in next fiscal year’s spending with other town agencies and quasi-public organizations.