To the editor:
The article in Monday's Times, "Homeless visitors posing issues for library," highlights a longstanding concern of the Board of Directors at the Sawyer Free Library.
As members of that board we are proud that a vigilant staff, supported as necessary by the Gloucester Police Department, ensures that the library is a safe and comfortable place for all ages.
We have policies in place that govern our responsibilities to our patrons and ensure we remain within our legal rights to handle incidents. Hundreds of individuals visit the library weekly without incident to make use of its unmatchable resources.
Managing the library for the benefit of its diverse users isn't easy when tight budgets put a strain on an already reduced staff. More than 600 people use the library, on average, every day. Outside of the schools and City Hall itself, this historic Dale Avenue building is the busiest public building in the city, yet takes up less than 1 percent of the city's annual budget.
The 2012-2013 budget allotment is less than our budget for the year 2004.
This, in fact, was Library Director Carol Gray's point when she asked the City Council last week for full-year funding to hire an assistant director. Supporting security is one part of this job, along with other major responsibilities including the supervision of public computer classes, job training assistance, and administering the many other programs that have been neglected due to budget cuts.
This is not a "new" position — it has been unfunded and unfilled for five years. This year's vacancy is of particular concern as it triggers an application for an unprecedented fifth waiver from the state, jeopardizing our certification with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners , our ability to apply for state grants, and effectively halts over 26,000 annual requests for books in the inter-library loan program.
Support for filling this position will be greatly appreciated by the 17,000 registered card-holders who are served by the library.
President, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Sawyer Free Library