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Budget Cuts Force Library to Reduce Hours, Re-Assign Staff

Starting April 3, the library will close at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, rather than 9 p.m.

The Fair Lawn library will be forced to reduce its operating hours and expand staffer responsibilities in anticipation of imminent borough budget cuts.

Borough manager Tom Metzler said his recommendation to allot $100,000 less to the library than library director Tim Murphy had requested prompted the move.

Murphy confirmed Thursday that, beginning in April, the library will start closing at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, rather than the 9 p.m. closing time residents have come to expect. The library will still remain open until 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Other changes at the library are more likely to affect the staff than the patrons.

For one, full-time workers including Murphy himself, will be expected to increase their productivity by picking up additional tasks around the library in an attempt to reduce the number of part-time hours billed.

"This is the new norm in Fair Lawn," Metzler said, referring to the need for short-staffed borough employees to add new responsibilities. "This happens all over the municipal building. Every secretary in the building is working for two departments. Now [the library] has just kind of caught up to the budget process this year." 

Murphy said he was also planning to furlough library workers on all five Fridays during the month of August to save on costs.

"It's a down time for us and we thought it would minimize the inconvenience for the public," he explained, adding that he doesn't anticipate having to cut any positions, just hours. "Everyone is going to pull together in an attempt to minimize having to do anything worse."

While the manager's suggested cuts can still be restored by council, Murphy isn't getting his hopes up. 

"My understanding of the borough's financial situation is that it's grave," he said. “We’ll do the best job we have with the resources we get this year. Same as every year.”

NUMBERS March 13, 2012 at 03:10 PM
i dont believe the numbers at all. for example i go to the community center and it is constantly being used. even if a small percentage use each individual facility you have to look it as a whole. for example say 10-15% of the town uses the library, 10-15% uses the pool, 10% uses the senior center, and 25-30% uses the rec center- then it is very likely 50-70% of the residents use atleast one of these facilities. our tax money is spread out between many things- and obviously not everyone is gonig to use every service. i personally have no need for recycling service, i am completely capable of bringing my familys recycling to the center on my own. however i have to pay for that out of my tax money even though i dont want to (is that considered THEFT mr paine?). i will not cry about, i will pay for it because i realize i pay for services i dont need or want to use- and other people are pay for things i use and they dont.
Chris Antonelli March 13, 2012 at 03:10 PM
That's still over 3K people using the facility. By comparison, the Fair Lawn PD made 538 arrests last year. So, what did each arrest cost us? From Jan - July, Fair Lawn FD responded to 399 calls. Are we going to complain about how much fuel was burned during each call? Number are just numbers sometimes, and sometimes there are just services that need to be offered.
Tommy P March 13, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Chris, the government has a clear need to provide a police function, law and order needs to be maintained. Let's not confuse basic required functions with entertainment which competes with the private sector. Jenne, I am hired to audit computer and network systems, I would never break into one which I was not hired by the owner to verify its security. Its called ETHICAL hacking and not hacking for a reason. As for the library stats, my source is BCCLS, last year there were 1,283 library cards issued. I not sure what other stats you want, but its all public information. As a test, I invite you to walk into Maurice Pine and ask. Let's see how good our professionals are at research. When you do, please post the results. There are 2,710 individuals who have registered as members of the community center (place a call to get that number). There were 5,371 people who paid to use the pool (source this website). And there are 32,500 (source fairlawn.org) people who live in town.
Tommy P March 13, 2012 at 09:11 PM
That means 84% of the town did not use the pool (please forgive me for being off a bit, the point still holds) and 92%+ didn't even register for the community center (non utilization is likely much higher) and 96%+ didn't sign up for a library card. As for numbers being numbers, at a cost of $1,000 per person to run Memorial Pool, it would be cheaper to buy a private 18' pool per family that bought a pass last year then it would be to open the pool this year. In 5 or 6 years we could buy every property in town that same 18' pool and have money left over. The pool does not have to be shutdown, there is no reason why it couldn't be run like Dumont does. Its not like you can move the pool.
Unreal Murderer March 13, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Fully agreed, the library, the pool, the rec center are all considered to be a luxury item, and when you have police, boro employees, and teachers being laid off you dispose of your luxurys for essential services. Much like running your own households, but the council has politicians who affected basic services in this town over luxury items in which produce few votes. Shame on them! Why do we have the community school and how much does this cost taxpayers?
Tommy P March 13, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Here are some NUMBERS, it would still take the 92% of us who don't use the Ganz Mahal to cover the $300 per member just the principle and interest costs per member. That's before hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff costs, utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc. Let use your 15% for the library, that means 85% are subsiding each of those patron almost $500. I could go on, but I think I make my point. The money uses for those subsidies does not grow on trees. It is taken under threat of force. You are not free to opt out of these luxuries, we are all coerced to pay for them. If you want to voluntarily held subsidize these services to gain a sense of community, feel free to send the borough a donation, I'll be the first on this site to thank and congratulate you. Don't send them to take it from the rest of us. The reality is, we have allowed temporary politicians to bribe us with our own money and we continue to pay and pay and pay. They sold us on the benefit and were irresponsible on the costs. The current lack of leadership on the existing council is compounding the issue. What percentage of the membership of the community center would remain if it weren't free? How many people would pay $1000/person for 2 months use of the pool? If you have a better word for forcibly taking money, please share. Its hard to argue THEFT doesn't apply. THE SECRETS ARE OUT. People are waking up to $10,000 average tax bills.
Bruce Knuckle March 13, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Thomas, Well put
Jenne March 14, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Paine, I'd need a cite for 'library cards issued' -- because my library card was 'issued' when I moved to town, not in 2011. The BCCLS page I found with the 'registered' information says that 58% of Fair Lawn is registered-- http://www.bccls.org/buckles/stats/PatronRegistration/Patron_Registration_2011.shtml. It also says http://www.bccls.org/buckles/stats/AnalyzingExpenses/AnalyzingExpenses2010.htm the library costs about $71 per capita (about average) as of 2010. (So, basically 2 O'Reilly books, or 3.5 graphic novels at B&N/Amazon prices)
Chris Antonelli March 14, 2012 at 01:07 PM
And I quote the former Mayor Ganz when I asked him to put the Rec Center on the ballot as a referendum: "Government by referendum is not efficient government". Lol....
Chris Antonelli March 14, 2012 at 01:11 PM
TP, You can have a private police department. It's been done. The only thing they need is the state police certification. If you ask me, I think education and law enforcement in NJ will be privatized within the next 20 years. The costs cannot be sustained.
Jenne March 14, 2012 at 01:40 PM
11+ books circulated in 2010 for every man woman and child in Fair Lawn. 58% of the community has library cards. Those stats were there for Paine to see; he ignored them. (We are already quite regionalized, you know, with the BCCLS services. Cooperative borrowing, collection development, and online service buying as well as the catalog are clearly going on-- and I don't know nothin' about the way BCCLS works inside, I can just tell that by looking at the system as a user. )
Harold Vogel March 14, 2012 at 02:07 PM
WOW! The loss of three hours on Tuesdays sure has generated the use of a lot of words.
Tommy P March 14, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Jenne, the updated budget numbers are worse they were last year, it used to be $2.21m, now its almost $2.33m. While we are scrapping for hidden tax increases like the Metzler water tax, the library is spending MORE money. The numbers published by BCCLS are self serving, but lets use them for sake of discussion. In 2001, the "online" number 67% its now down to 58%. So while the politicos tell us usages is up, even the county says otherwise. The circulation numbers down, year over year 2011 vs 2010 vs 2009. Notice they don't publish the number of patrons who used cards last year? Notice they don't define "online" its not the same as have library cards. The number that is more relevant is turn over which is 1.95 http://www.bccls.org/buckles/stats/CollectionTurnover/2011/1.htm Even if we accept the usage is 58%, it's still a luxury with an increasing cost at time of fiscal tightening. Its still almost $200 per household. If it were a ballot question to A> Keep it as it B> Regionalize or C> Follow Northvale and shut it down, option A would NOT be the majority. Too bad we don't have a way to collect signatures and make it a ballot initiative. Clearly a better case can be made to waste money on the library vs Memorial Pool, the senior center and "community" center, but our "leaders" are choosing to increase the financial burden on Fair Lawn taxpayers instead.
Jenne March 14, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I'm not sure why T. Paine thinks the number of times each book in the library collection would circulate if each book circulated the same number of times is 'more relevant'. Probably because the number looks bad. Fair Lawn library circulation appears to have peaked in 2009, with 414,596 circs, if I'm reading this right. Numbers have gone down in 2010 and 2011, but the number of books borrowed from OTHER libraries by Fair Lawn residents has gone up. That suggests the cutting of hours in Fair Lawn in 2010-11 might have something to do with the lower circulation numbers. What's even creepier is that we are both arguing using internal stats generated from the BCCLS online system, with no definitions of what they mean. It occurred to me that the circulation numbers could in fact be sorted by date of publication of the book.
Tommy P March 14, 2012 at 09:19 PM
That is the whole point of the way the numbers are published. Isn't it odd that they teach people how to read and find footnotes, yet their own documents omit them. I was told by a retired librarian this is intentional and the more relevant number is inflated to begin with. Remember they have an interest in making their usage look higher.
Jenne March 15, 2012 at 01:44 PM
*snort* 'the more relevant number' being the collection turnover? Dude, dude. There's an easy but work intensive way of raising your collection turnover. Weed. Pull the 'dusty' books-- the ones that haven't circulated. Unfortunately, weeding takes time (and selling the books is unlikely to net enough money to cover the cost of weeding). Fewer books in the collection not circulating, the 'turnover' rate goes up. Low turnover usually means a need to weed. You want to know what the numbers really are? Ask the director. Or the President of the Library Board. Or, ask Zak to interview the director, or call BCCLS. Or just show up at a Library Board meeting, last Wednesday of the month. (I got all those suggestions by looking at http://www.fairlawnlibrary.org/about-us
Stuart Pace March 15, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Encyclopedia Britannica will no longer offer a print version after 244 years. Times change.
Jenne March 15, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Yup, the Britannica will no longer offer a print version. And it will still be cheaper to have your library subscribe to the Britannica online and you use it only when you need to, than to have everyone have their own little subscriptions. :) It's not currently offered by the state consortium through Jerseyclicks or through BCCLS (http://www.bccls.org/databases/log-in.shtml) , but it could be in the future-- assuming we still have a library.
Jenne March 15, 2012 at 03:21 PM
P.S. Geeking the library-- all the stuff on http://www.bccls.org/databases/log-in.shtml is available from your house or anywhere you connect to the Internet, not just in the building, as long as you have a library card number (which you can get online, without coming into the building, if you are in a hurry!)
Tommy P March 17, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Wondering aloud, what stops someone in New York, New Delhi, New Zealand or Bam, Iran from signing up? Well maybe not Bam, they have a national firewall in Iran.
Tommy P March 17, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Your understanding of turn over is inaccurate. However, here is a stat that is easier to digest, last patron use. 9192 people used their library card last year (including the internet). Using the BCCLS's suspect numbers, that means 72% of the town DID NOT use their library card last year. Given the budget is $2.33m, that's over $250 per library card. How many of those users would have been willing to pay $250? Given the 10.8 items lent per capita rate (not the 11+ you suggested), that's about $23 per item lent (each time). And that doesn't include multiple $IX FIGURE maintenance bills which are coming up OFF budget. http://www.bccls.org/buckles/stats/PatronRegistration/patronuse.pdf So let me revise my statement down a bit, from 90 to 72. The sentiment still holds, the vast majority don't use it. MORE THAN 2 IN 3 RESIDENTS IN FAIR LAWN DO NOT USE THE LIBRARY.
Jenne March 19, 2012 at 03:38 AM
*snort* The collection turnover number is actually as I described it, which is good because, you know, I'm a librarian (not at a public library) and you're not. How do I know? I asked the guy who used to work there and who ran that number. And yes, weeding does drive up your turnover rate. Deal, dude. Plus, your 'use' number is flawed, because it assumes ever person who used the library is reflected by the number of card uses, where card uses only represent card uses. We don't have the gate statistics-- how many people entered and left the building, so we can't compare that. 6.89% of the population of Fair Lawn, being under 5, can't have a library card; but there are people under 5 in the library-- and thus using it. Fair Lawn doesn't appear to have a problem with people getting extra cards to get more time on the computers (one some public libraries do have). So you don't have that. However: suppose 30% of the community uses the library. Well, about 30% of the community is even ELIGIBLE to use senior citizen services too, eh?
Tommy P March 19, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Hold on, private libraries with librarians still exist? That maybe news to our council. I agree with you the Senior Center is much less used, and from what I understand includes many non-Fair Lawn residents, but that club is a business that doesn't belong on the borough's balance sheet just the same. The reality is these optional "luxuries" which are not used by majority of our town are the reason why our taxes are so high. The library's budget is several times larger than the Sr Center, but both cost far more than the generate and neither would likely survive a ballot initiative.
Tory April 06, 2012 at 12:56 AM
The pool is a different issue, and one thing I am hoping that they will now do is let town residents sponsor people from other towns. Fair Lawn government does a bad job of publicizing resources and facilities. People would join the pool if the pool had a great website, nothing splashy but definitely something with pictures. The library, I use because I don't like buying books or ereaders, and I am young and have young kids. I don't go to the storytimes, for a variety of reasons but they are good and the library is a good place to meet. One thing I would like to see it do is allow outside groups to use the large space they have, even if they charged a small fee it would be worth it. There isn't even a "Fair lawn" town facebook site run by the government. Or a library facebook site, nothing promoting. No flyers around town nothing. Ultimately, we all pay for things we don't use. But I do feel if the town marketed what they have better it would help.
Deleted because of harassment April 06, 2012 at 02:04 AM
http//;www.fairlawn.org is the municipal website, which includes various departments, including recreation and linkd to other borough-related sites. The is a page devoted to the Borough of Fair Lawn, and several special interest pages on Facebook. www.fairlawnschools.org is the BOE website, with links to the schools in the district, which each have their own websites and access for the high school and middle schools to EDLINE for grades and other information. The police department has it's own site www.fairlawnpd.com. Did you even look for them before you complained about them? My kids participated in the summer reading programs at the Pine Library until they outgrew them in middle school; it's an excellent, free program to assist children in learning to read and to search out their interests with the aid of library staff. There are programs for young adults, and adult readers, too - check out the Fair Lawn library via www.bccls.org.
Jenne April 09, 2012 at 05:37 PM
The pool site definitely isn't very good-- last year it never even listed the date the pool was originally scheduled to close! More and better info on these sites-- with pictures, as the other poster said- could help. I admit I plan to email the library, too, because last weekend I looked to see what the hours were for the holiday weekend and they weren't posted. That's just silly! On the other hand, having to use the Fair Lawn schools' site I find it a real boondoggle, badly thought-out and designed.
Chris Antonelli April 09, 2012 at 05:49 PM
It used to be maintained in house. It looks sourced to some company Barstow Web Design.
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Jenne February 12, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Tommy P doesn't get that other kinds of libraries, special use ones, such as company libraries, academic libraries, and government/law libraries exist-- or I guess he figures their existence must somehow negate the need for public libraries. By the way, there are still some private, subscription based libraries out there-- the Library Company of Philadelphia, or the Folger Shakespeare Library, for instance. But those are primarily research libraries-- they don't substitute for Public libraries because they aren't buying the same materials.


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