Kinnelon Library Staff Working to Help With Financial Situation
Librarian said times have not been easy for the library, but it remains a valuable asset to the community.
The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted by Maryellen Liddy, a teen and reference librarian at the Kinnelon Public Library. If you would like to submit a Letter to the Editor, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
I am the teen/reference librarian at Kinnelon Library. I am not writing here to comment on the management of the library by our director, the board of trustees, or the mayor and town council. I wish only to express to Patch readers that the library staff has done everything within our power to cut costs and help the library continue to function at a very high level throughout this fiscal crisis.
While the community may only now be aware of the library's financial issues, staff members have known about them for quite some time. We are in the third year of a five-year salary freeze. All of us are paying greater contributions toward our pensions and those contributions will continue to rise each year. The full-time staff members who receive health care benefits are paying increasingly higher percentages of their policies. Those percentages will also continue to rise steadily. We have not asked for or received a salary increase to offset these deductions.
Though the article mentions the recent attrition of one staff member, no outgoing staff has been replaced over the last two and a half years, resulting in a loss each week of roughly 50 manpower hours. Hours have also been reduced for some of our part-time staff members who are involved in all aspects of the library's functioning. Staff complied with the reductions, which greatly increased our individual workloads. Despite the manpower shortages, we continue to provide the same outstanding service with the same number of public hours (barring the recently announced termination of four Sunday hours).
For anyone who may believe the staff is overpaid, I should mention that we are the only non-unionized workforce left within Kinnelon’s municipal government. Interested parties may visit nj.com's "By the Numbers" feature and examine the salaries for non-management library staff. Some of us, including me, are in positions that require a master's degree.
With nearly nine years experience in the public and private library sectors and that advanced degree, I earn an annual salary of just over $51,000. This figure is about $500 over the New Jersey Library Association's minimum, entry level salary for a librarian with a master's degree. For comparison's sake, I would encourage people to view the salaries of employees with an advanced degree in other borough-run entities. On the issues of salary and workload, we employees have done everything asked of us to ease the library's financial issues.
The library’s 2011 raw data can be found here. Of the 10,248 Kinnelon residents, roughly half have library cards. In 2011, patrons made over 100,000 visits to the library during our 2,578 public hours. At a local taxpayer cost of around $200 per household, we are a tremendous value to the community. If you aren't a library card holder, or haven't visited the library recently, I would encourage you to stop by and see for yourself the many wonderful things such a small amount of your tax dollars support.