As the director of the Gardiner Public Library, one of my duties includes advocating for library services. Most times it really isn’t a duty at all; it is a joy to talk to people about what a library means to them. Really, how can you say anything bad about a public library? Where else can you walk into a place, grab something off the shelves, check it out and do all of this for free?
Obviously nothing is really “free” and library items are no exception. It costs money to run a library; do you have any idea how much oil we burn in one winter season? Books and e-books all cost money, staff insists on getting paid and electric bills keep soaring. Who pays for all that stuff?
The Gardiner Public Library is a city department that receives an operational budget each year. This budget allows the Gardiner Public Library to join MINERVA, be on the state delivery service so all those inter-library loan titles get here in a timely basis and pays for all those downloaded titles people keep demanding.
To augment that budget, 4 towns agree each year to be a partner town for these library services by approving a fee from the City of Gardiner. That is where my advocacy comes in! Each year, I attend 4 town meetings; 2 in early spring and 2 in the summertime. In between discussions of recycling, cemeteries, transfer stations and public works, sits a warrant item asking the townspeople to approve a certain amount of funding to continue using the Gardiner Public Library. Sounds innocent enough, but each year at town meetings, folks like to pull it out, throw it around and punt it back to me so that I may answer all their concerns.
I am so proud of our partner towns! After a few pointed questions and voting to allow me to speak (out-of-towners, or people “from away” cannot speak at a town meeting without the town voting to allow a voice to be heard) both the towns of Pittston and West Gardiner overwhelmingly voted to remain a partner town to the library for another year. It is my pleasure to attend these town meetings and “sing for our supper” and if I groan about it being “that time a year again”, it is just because I can never anticipate the crowds and that is a wonderful thing about Maine’s town meeting season! The free hotdogs over in West Gardiner are a nice touch too.
Anne E. Davis, Library Director