There is no doubt in our minds that residents of the Sag Harbor School District should turn out on Tuesday and vote in favor of the John Jermain Memorial Library’s proposed 2012 budget.
While the budget does call for a 4.8 percent increase in spending, the reality is the library is asking residents to pay an extra average of $5 per year for library services — services that are expanding to include a number of new digital resources, as well as new programming. All the while, the library board is faced with the stark reality of double-digit increases in the cost of healthcare, fuel oil, and is now operating not one, but two library buildings while it restores and expands the Main Street building many of us consider one of the great examples of Sag Harbor architecture.
In its temporary West Water Street location, JJML could have cut back on its programming, blaming the size of its new facility. Recognizing that particularly during bleak economic times the critical role a public library serves in a community, especially when it is so accessible from Main Street, the library has not backed off in the materials or services it offers Sag Harbor residents. In fact, it has increased its roll as the de-facto community center of Sag Harbor and shouldn’t be penalized for giving us all that much needed service.
The trustee elections this year proved a tough race in that all four candidates vying for the three open seats on the library board are obviously qualified to serve and committed to the future of JJML.
That being said, far above the other candidates we endorse Craig Rhodes for a second term on the library board, and urge residents to take the extra time necessary to write him in on their ballots.
JJML Director Catherine Creedon herself has talked about how critical a role Rhodes has played in the often confusing and sometimes frustrating review process for the expansion and renovation of the library. We have found him to be a thoughtful, vocal and intelligent member of the library board. He deserves another term.
We also believe Jackie Brody is ripe for her first full term on the library board after earning a one-year term on the board last fall. Brody has proved a valuable member of the library’s fundraising committee and as the board moves forward with the building project, we feel it is critical that her presence remain on that committee.
For the last seat, honestly, it was a very tough choice between Ann Lieber and Toby Spitz, both who bring a tremendous amount of experience to the table, and have obvious passion for the library. Spitz’s commitment to extending library services into the Latin American communities was particularly engaging and her background in library sciences more than impressive.
However, because of Lieber’s experience specifically with library building projects we feel she should have the seat. However, we encourage Spitz to seek a seat on the board next year as she obviously already is an asset to the library.