Article 32

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of  $16,655 to upgrade the Library's Children's Librarian position from part-time to a full-time position to respond to increasing demand for children's services in the Library.  This amount represents the cost of a benefit package from April 1, 2006 through December 31, 2006, after which, if the package is approved, the benefits will be funded through the town's operating budget.  The estimated cost for a full year of these benefits at 2006 rates is $22,269. (Recommended by Library Trustees) (Not Recommended by Budget Committee) 


Originator Library Trustees
Library Trustees 5-0-0
Budget Committee 5-5-0 (Diack - no, Doug Viger - no, Mahoney - no, Farris - no, Sherman - no) (Failed)
Town Meeting no changes made during the Deliberative session

Voter's Guide Explanation

This warrant article would appropriate funds to establish health, dental and life insurance benefits for the Children's Librarian.  Funding this benefits package would enable the Library to increase the Children's Librarian's hours to 30 or more hours per week. 

Backup Data

Pelham Library Staffing

It is the policy of the Pelham Public Library that a master's degree in library science (MLS) from an ALA-accredited graduate school is the appropriate professional degree for the librarian serving children in the library.

 The ability to attract and retain competent, professional staff depends upon providing a strong benefits package and competitive wages.  Compensation for library staff should be competitive with compensation provided by similar-sized libraries in New Hampshire.  Compensation for library staff should be in line with other community positions that require similar training and responsibilities.

 The Pelham Public Library must provide staffing levels that meet the growing demand for services.  Between 2003 and 2005, the Library issued 1,477 new library cards and the number of visits to the library per year increased by 172% (from 12,367 to 33,697).  The library is open for business 300 days of the year for 50 hours per week.  On average, 112 children and adults come to the library every day.  During that same period, our annual circulation of books and other materials increased by 52% (from 45,743 to 69,924).  All of these increases in business were covered with no increase in staffing.

Patrons, Visits and Circulation

The chart below shows the dramatic increase in the number of residents that utilize the new Library facilities. 


  2003 2004 2005
Registered Patrons 4391 5384 5868
Annual Visits 12367 27783 33698
Annual Circulation 45743 57135 69924


Current Library Staffing Levels

The Library's current staffing is 5.2 FTEs (Full Time Equivalents):

  # Position Full or Part Time?   Hours per week
  1 Director Full Time   40
  1 Assistant Director Full Time   40
  1 Technical Services Coordinator Full Time   40
  1 Adult Services Librarian Full Time   40
  1 Children's Librarian Part Time   28
  4 Library Assistants Part Time   5-10
  5 Substitute Library Assistants Part Time   on call; hours vary
          211 hours per week 40  =  5.275 FTEs

In 2005 the Children's Librarian's hours were increased from 10 per week to 28 per week  -- almost triple --  with no budget increase.  (The additional hours were gained by stitching together a patchwork of part-time coverage hours.)

The Children's Department - Our Greatest Need Area

The area of greatest demand is the Children's Department.  For the past three years circulation of children's materials (books, videos, audiobooks, etc.) has consistently made up 60% or more of the library's total circulation.  Between 2003 and 2004 annual attendance at children's programs (story times, Summer Reading, etc.) more than doubled from 1,465 to 2,972.   

Overall, the Pelham Public Library lags far behind its peers (public libraries with similar population) in providing children's services.  Pelham's 2004 OEP population estimate is 12,346.  A recent survey of twelve New Hampshire libraries serving towns with populations ranging from 10,384 to 15,376 revealed that 10 of the 12 libraries employed full-time children's librarians.  Four of the five of the towns smaller than Pelham had full-time children's librarians.

 Effective library service for children entails a broad range of experience and professional skills. The librarian serving children is first of all fully knowledgeable in the theories, practices and emerging trends of librarianship but must also have specialized knowledge of the particular needs of child library users.

There is a vital link between reading ability and the success of students in school.  Children who are introduced to the library at an early age become life-long readers.  Reading aloud to children -- as we do in story time programs -- is one of the most important factors in developing reading skills.  Research has also shown that school-aged children who participate in summer reading programs begin the next school year with stronger reading skills that those who don't. 

The true value of full-time children's services in the library is immeasurable.  From story hours for toddlers to career planning for teens, children's librarians make a difference because they are skilled to handle the unique developmental needs of every child who comes to them for help.

The addition of this benefit package in the Town Benefits Fund will allow the Library to move forward to meet those needs and provide an adequate level of children's services to the citizens of Pelham.