RED BANK: LIBRARY ADDS MORE HOURS

rb library 1 040913HOT-TOPIC_03Continuing its recovery from a period of shrinkage, the Red Bank Public Library will add seven hours to its weekly operations starting July 6. The West Front Street facility will open at 10 a.m. Mondays, three hours earlier than at present, and close at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, four hours later than the present close.

The change was enabled by the resolution of budget issues and the recent hire of several part-time workers, said library Director Elizabeth McDermott. The institution will be open 38 hours per week, still well short of the 54 hours of operation five years ago, she said. Saturday operations, which had been curtailed, were partially restored last October. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: LIBRARY AVERTS PREDICTED CRISIS

rbpl 1 102113Dire forecasts made by library board members who resigned a year ago have not panned out, officials say. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Article updated with post-publication comment below]

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Nearly one year after a mass resignation by trusteees over budget issues that they said imperiled its future, the Red Bank Public Library hasn’t collapsed into the river it overlooks.

Nor has it been swamped by red ink. In fact, the institution is doing quite well, says its new director, Elizabeth McDermott, who recently accepted the job on a permanent basis – after first rejecting it – largely because of the turnaround she helped guide.

“The building didn’t fall down,” McDermott told redbankgreen earlier this month, following a meeting at which the board approved a new $1 million budget. “In fact, we’re growing.”

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LINCROFT: BROOKDALE OKS MASS LAYOFF

HOT-TOPIC_03Brookdale Community College in Lincroft will lay off 210 employees next summer, according to a report by the Asbury Park Press.

About 250 staffers, students and alumni packed a “boisterous” hearing to protest the move on Thursday, according to the report. But the school’s board of trustees, citing a growing budget hole, approved the layoffs, which are to be followed by new hirings, app.com reports.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY ADDS SATURDAY HOURS

rbpl stairs 051514The stairs to the library’s children’s room, where Saturday programming returns on October 18 with a Halloween Craft Party. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As expected, the trustees of the Red Bank Public Library voted to resume part-day Saturday operations Thursday night.

The West Front Street facility will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and “all services, from borrowing books and movies to using the public computers and Wi-Fi, reading newspapers and magazines, and attending special events and programs, will be available to children and adults,” according to a press release issued Friday.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY MAY RESTORE SATURDAYS

rb library 092214The resumption of Saturday service is expected to occur as early as this weekend, officials said. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Moving to reverse one of the more controversial actions of its predecessors, members of the recently reconstituted board of the Red Bank Public Library are expected to clear the way for a resumption of Saturday operations this week.

A special meeting of the board has been scheduled for Thursday evening, solely for the purpose of voting on the proposal. That would allow the facility to be open as soon as this Saturday, acting director Elizabeth McDermott tells redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY TO ADD HOURS

rbpl 1 032714The library’s trustees, below, agreed to add seven hours to the weekly schedule. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rbpl 051514When will the Red Bank Public Library restore Saturday service? That’s the question acting library director Elizabeth McDermott says patrons ask most these days.

Answer: by the end of 2014. With luck.

In the meantime, the library’s newly reconstituted board of trustees board, at a meeting Thursday night, added seven hours to a weekly operating schedule that had been pared to 20 in recent months.

“It’s a start,” said board member Stephen Hecht.

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RED BANK: NEW TRUSTEES GET THEIR FEET WET

rbpl trustees 050114 Mayor Pasquale Menna, right, swears in new library board members in the Eisner Room. Sara Hansen, center below, with Elizabeth McDermott and Steve Hecht, was chosen board president. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sara hansen 050114Members of the Red Bank Public Library’s newly reconstituted board of trustees board got a real-life introduction to the challenges they’ll face Wednesday night.

On a tour of the library during a downpour one day before they were  sworn into their posts, trustees witnessed rainwater coming through the ceiling and flooding the basement.

“I wanted board members to see the building,” acting library director Elizabeth McDermott told redbankgreen. What they saw was the hasty deployment of trash cans to catch water dripping from above and “a couple of inches” of water inundating the basement of the former Eisner mansion portion of the srtucture, thanks to faulty drainage from an exterior stairwell.

“It was up to here” in the stairwell, said new trustee Beth Hanratty, indicating a point just below her knee.

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RED BANK: NEW LIBRARY TRUSTEES NAMED

rbpl 1 032714Beth Hanratty, below, was named chairperson of the reconstituted board. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Correction: Mayor Menna tells redbankgreen that while Beth Hanratty was appointed to fill the unexpired term of board President John Grandits, she was not appointed board president, as reported below. The newly constituted board is expected to elect new officers at its May 1 meeting. redbankgreen regrets the error.]

By JOHN T. WARD

beth hanratty 040714How’s this for a job offer? The work is unpaid. It requires running an institution that at the moment has just lost its director, faces a purported-though-disputed funding shortfall and has possibly too many full-time employees – including two whose jobs recently became a political hot potato.

Oh, and most of the people who last held the position submitted a joint “take-this-job-and-shove-it” resignation letter just last Saturday.

But just four days after that mass exodus by members of the Red Bank Public Library Board of Trustees, Mayor Pasquale Menna appointed four replacements to the board Wednesday evening. Read More »

RED BANK: LIBRARY TRUSTEES QUIT EN MASSE

rbpl trustees 3 032714 Of the six board members seen in this photo from a March 27 trustees meeting, only April Klimley, in red at left, remains on the board. Two others who also resigned are not shown. Below, the sign outside the library welcomed back two employees whose rehirings prompted the resignations. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rbpl 041314Overridden last week by the borough council over a controversial budget, six of the eight members of the Red Bank Public Library board of trustees resigned in protest Saturday.

Angered over what they said were factual misrepresentations and position reversals by the Menna Administration that undid a year of “difficult” financial planning, the trustees said in a letter that it “has become apparent that we cannot operate as an effective and independent board as stipulated by the NJ State Library statutes.”

The mass exodus, coupled with the planned departure of library Director Virginia Papandrea later this month and another trustee’s resignation last Thursday, raises questions about short-term leadership at the 76-year-old institution. Moreover, departing board members said the library continues to face a fiscal crisis, contrary to administration claims.

“The numbers still don’t add up,” said trustees President John Grandits. “I don’t see how you’re going to be open in November or December. I don’t get it.”

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RED BANK: COUNCIL REHIRES LIBRARY PAIR

rb council 2 040914Librarians Sira Williams, left, and Elizabeth McDermott embrace after being reinstated to their jobs Wednesday night. Below, trustees Denelle Johnson, left, and Brigid McCarthy with Administrator Stanley Sickels after the meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb council 1 040914Pulling rank on its own appointees Wednesday night, the Menna Administration rehired two of the three full-timers laid off from the public library amid warnings of a financial crisis last month.

During a tense council meeting at which officials characterized the library’s trustees as “intransigent” and “hostile” to administration guidance, borough Administrator Stanley Sickels also presented the outlines of a library budget that he said would yield surpluses this year and next, and enable the facility to restore some hours of operation, which were cut last month.

That’s in sharp contrast to the spending plan crafted by the eight-member library board, which anticipated a shortfall of $131,000 this year and dire consequences next year if the full-time staffing was not reduced.

Two clearly frosted trustees continued to insist that the administration was fixing purported errors that did not exist in the board’s budget and had failed to communicate with the board in recent weeks.

“I don’t understand the adversarial position,” library trustee Brigid McCarthy told the council during a public comment session after the vote. “This problem is much bigger than two jobs. Rehiring these two people will only kick the can down the road.”

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RED BANK: LIBRARY LAYOFFS SPARK OUTRAGE

sira williams 031214Laid-off children’s librarian Sira Williams embraces colleague Jane Eigenrauch after Wednesday night’s council meeting. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Hours after more than half the staff of the Red Bank Public Library was laid off, supporters packed a borough council meeting Wednesday night demanding a financial fix that would maintain the 77-year-old institution’s hours, programming and jobs.

Taking turns at a microphone to recall their own childhood days at the library or of watching their children learn to read there, a string of speakers pressed the council on how the library could find itself facing an estimated $131,000 operating deficit this year, and what the governing body planned to do about it.

“I can’t believe a town as wonderful as ours is facing this crisis,” said Sally Gordon or Windward Way, noting that Red Bank’s cultural assets led to its selection by Smithsonian Magazine as the third-best town in America in 2012. “I urge you, because you have the knowledge and the power, to figure out how we can get past this crisis.”

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RED BANK: LIBRARY PUTS STAFF ON NOTICE

rbpl board 022714 2A meeting of the Red Bank library board in the former living room of the Eisner family last month. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rbpl 2 102113The Red Bank Public Library has put its entire staff on notice of possible layoffs in the face of a looming budget shortfall.

Library director Virginia Papandrea confirmed to redbankgreen Tuesday morning that all 10 staffers, including three part-timers, were advised by letter dated Friday that they could be laid off unless the facility can fill an operating budget shortfall estimated at $131,000.

The move comes as the library faces a whopping payout of more than $70,000 in unused sick time to a retiring employee and a drop in the sum that the borough is obligated under state statute to pay into the facility from property tax collections.

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