Minutes for the April 11 Trustees Meeting

The meeting convened at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Attending were Cindy Binzen, Curt Albee, Miriam Newman, Rachel Kurland, Carol Wilson, Melissa Strayton (librarian) and Marty Frank.

Minutes from the March meeting were accepted.

Librarian’s Report: Melissa reported that the library has been busy, in part because families have been returning with their children. Most recently ordered books have arrived, with several of the children’s books intended to be used to celebrate the arrival of babies. The after-school program has been going well, and Sarah has a good working proposal for what the summer children’s programming will look like. There’s a possibility that we might collaborate with the Thetford libraries in arranging for a performing artist this summer. Take-home projects that focus on the theme of re-usability are ready for next week’s school vacation, and Melissa will handle the publicity this week.

We still have money to spend from the first round of ARPA grants that we received, and Melissa has found out that we’re eligible to get an additional $500, which is supposed to be used to acquire books that address the issue of diversity. A $300 grant has been secured to support the summer reading program.

Green Mountain Library Consortium’s Overdrive program is being transferred to a new platform, which will require some work by Melissa in preparation for the change. Melissa is waiting to hear from the Friends about the scheduling of the April meeting, which typically is the one when she makes requests for funding. 

Treasurer’s Report: Rachel noticed that there remain a number of unpaid bills, rendering it impossible to provide the board with a useful and updated report on our finances. She’ll send one out when the numbers are updated. In any case, everything seems to be on track. We spent less money this winter on shoveling, but more on electricity. In fact, Rachel has noted some sort of charge on our monthly GMP bills that she wants to get more information about. We recently received a $5,000 bequest.

Rachel has been supplying information to the guy who’s preparing our 990. She was out of email contact when the Investment Committee was arranging the transfer of endowment funds to Mascoma Wealth Management, and Marty filled in by signing some documents. Rachel said she wants to get a better idea of why Mascoma Wealth is recommending that we drop our instructions to invest in socially responsible funds and why the Investment Committee seems inclined to accept that advice. She’ll report back to us. 

Other Business: After Cindy reported that she and others hadn’t detected the septic smell that Melissa previously reported, Melissa said she believes the smell might be coming from the toilet tank after the bathroom goes unused for long stretches. Curt suggested that if the smell is coming from the basement drain, we might easily fix that by taping over whatever part of the drain is left exposed when we run a hose into it. Regarding the water leak into the basement, he said it’s likely there’s a problem with the water line that was laid when the new septic system was built. He said we’ll need to excavate the line after the ground dries out.

Curt has further explored several projects, including:

Basement work: Curt thinks we might eliminate some of the dust and make the area less unpleasant to work in by creating a ceiling with Tyvek, which would also make the basement area brighter. Dust control would be furthered by also washing the floor and painting it. Curt also suggested that we consider replacing the old ductwork that was put up for the coal furnace that once heated the building but is way oversized for the furnace we have now. Doing that would create more room in the basement and might improve the efficiency of the furnace. A guy he consulted estimated that work would run around $2,000.

Roof work: Curt has been trying to get a hold of Jeff Solsaa in an effort to track down someone experienced in working with slate. Curt thinks we might be best off keeping slate in the front and replacing it with standing seam at the rear of the building. 

Window Replacement: Curt acknowledged that he was somewhat taken aback by the $22,000 quote to replace our current windows. The project would provide us Marvin windows that are historically compatible but much more energy-efficient. Considering the price tag, there clearly would not be a payback on the investment within our lifetimes, but the building would definitely leak less energy.  

Solar panels: The guy who came out to assess our site was anything but encouraging. We would need install ground mounts for the panels, an expensive option that isn’t suitable for a building that is used 20 hours a week.

Spruce tree: A guy from Chippers inspected the large spruce in front and said it was a potential hazard, although he said we would have no liability as long as no one has specifically identified it as a hazard and asked us to remove it. Curt thinks we should remove it because it shades the north side of the building and thinks it would create quite a problem if it were to come down on its own. The $6,350 estimate includes chipping up the tree itself, but not removing the stump, which would remain in the ground along with the roots. Rachel and Marty said they do not harbor the same ill feelings toward that particular tree as Curt does.

Cindy said she thinks we should reconsider our mask policy each month and make changes according to what seems most prudent. Melissa reported that a couple of patrons have asked her if we are considering dropping the mandate, but most people seem unbothered by it. About half the libraries in the state have made masks optional, she said. None of the trustees expressed an interest in dropping the mandate for the coming month.

Cindy said that she heard that EC Fiber has decided to keep its hub where it is, so we no longer need to await word from Tom Cecere. Catherine Tudish has said that she would still be willing to participate in a reading; Corey Cook hasn’t been contacted yet. A decision about whether the Townhouse will be available for public events should be made soon. Blake Spencer said he would be happy to tour the library and see if he has any ideas for improving the children’s space when he returns to Strafford in May. Curt will check with Eric Thorpe about lawn maintenance. April duties include some sort of thank-you for volunteers; Carol agreed to handle those once again.

Spring cleaning and whining is set for May 15 at 9:30. Marty will bring batteries.

Our next meeting will be May 9 at 7 p.m., perhaps by Zoom. 

Submitted by Marty Frank