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Massena library to seek signatures for Brasher branch

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MASSENA — Massena Public Library officials are getting ready to start circulating petitions through the town of Brasher for the proposed branch library that would be located in Crapser Hall on the second floor of the former Boothe Building in downtown Brasher Falls.

Library Director Elaine Dunne-Thayer said petitions will begin circulating this week throughout the town of Brasher. Library officials need 80 signatures by July 31 to get the proposition on the November ballot.

That represents 10 percent of the individuals who voted in the last gubernatorial election.

She said at last count, they had 700 cardholders from the Brasher area.

“We would obviously like as many as possible,” she said. “We want to make sure this is something residents would like to explore.”

Ms. Dunne-Thayer said some of the petition process will involve residents going door to door.

They are looking for Brasher residents to form a “Friends of the Library” committee to help with the petition process.

“When a person signs the petition, it must be witnessed by another Brasher resident. It’s definitely a Brasher initiative by Brasher residents for Brasher residents,” she said.

Anyone interested in being on the committee can send a message through the “Books for Brasher” Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BooksForBrasher or by calling the library at 769-9914.

“We’re encouraging people to contact us on the Facebook page, and we can tell when and where they can sign the petition. If people are not on Facebook, they can call the library and I will let them know who to contact,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

“We’re looking for a permanent group. Right now we’re looking for a group that’s interested in the library and would like to help out with the process, people genuinely interested in getting involved with the library. We hope it will morph into a permanent group,” she said, noting they would be dependent on that group to raise money to help build the branch library’s collection.

In addition to the door-to-door campaign, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said they plan to have an open house at Crapser Hall. Some of the library’s staff will be on hand, and visitors will have an opportunity to hear their plans, see the space and sign the petition.

They are working with a marketing consultant and representatives from the North Country Library System.

If they’re successful in their petition campaign, the signatures will be presented to the Brasher town clerk to be added to the ballot, where residents will determine if they want to financially support the branch library.

“It’s a two-part process to see if they’re interested,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said. “It’s up to the people in the community. It’s sort of a grassroots initiative.”

Library officials had been approached about a possible branch library in Brasher after a community survey of Brasher residents indicated a library was one of the top facilities they wanted in their town.

Library trustees agreed during their monthly meeting June 11 to move ahead with the proposal. That allowed them to begin gathering the signatures.

They’ve set a $56,000 annual budget that would be covered by Brasher residents only through a tax.

Among the costs are $13,000 for the part-time manager’s salary and benefits. That person would be paid $15.73 an hour for 15 hours a week.

That cost is based on 50 percent of the highest paid part-time employee’s hours being spent at the branch. Their plan is to staff the branch library with a part-time employee who would not receive benefits.

It also includes $10,000 for furniture, $12,500 for a starter collection, $3,600 for heat and lights, $5,400 for the technology and automation startup and rent at $400 a month for a five-year lease.

The proposal also includes $2,700 for an initial marketing campaign, which is being donated by the Friends of the Massena Public Library.

Should the initiative fail, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said Brasher residents would still have the library service in Massena.

“They’re always welcome at the Massena Public Library,” she said. “At last count, we had 700 cardholders from the Brasher area. We will continue to honor those cards and provide the best services. We’re just wondering if they would be willing to pay for improved services.”

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