Minutes for the Jan. 13 Trustees Meeting

The meeting convened at 7 p.m. at the library. Present were Cindy Binzen, Miriam Newman, Curt Albee, Carol Wilson, Rachel Kurland, Melissa Strayton (librarian), Kerry Claffey (bookkeeper) and Marty Frank.

Minutes from the December meeting were approved.

Librarian’s Report: Melissa reported that she has been busy ordering new materials for the library and has spent the budgeted amounts for books, DVDs and audiobooks. She is in good shape in terms of scheduling staffing slots for volunteers. She also reported that Sarah Rogers is doing well; her program ideas, book selections and relationships with the kids are all good, although Melissa has encouraged her to vary the types of craft projects she plans.

The new laptop for the circulation desk has arrived and is now waiting to be set up. Work on the bookplates celebrating newborns is mostly complete. A Strafford resident has approached Melissa to explore bringing a therapy dog to the library as a way to encourage reluctant readers (the children would be invited to read aloud to the dog). The dog is already used in Newtown School, and similar programs are commonplace in other libraries. The board quickly agreed that the after-school program would not be an appropriate situation and identified a couple of other areas of concern, including our no-dogs policy and the challenge of finding a good spot in the library that would not interfere with other activities. It was agreed that Melissa could see if the dog-owner might be willing to come in on a Saturday on a one-time basis.

Melissa asked board members if they had any ideas for adult programming. Cindy suggested that February might be the best month to put a program on because there is little happening in town and the Cabin Fever series occurs in March. She also suggested the possibility of hosting what would effectively be an open house for new people in the community, both as an opportunity to socialize and a way to introduce them to what resources are available in Strafford.

Melissa noted that there is a leak in the basement where the new water line enters the building. Curt said that Shawn Harlow is aware of it, tried one fix and will have to come back at some point to figure out an effective solution. The furnace cleaning was rescheduled, but will take place this month. A representative from the Turrell Foundation will be visiting the library on Jan. 23.

Friends Report: No one from the Friends could make the meeting, and Miriam will convey to Mary Newman that they have an open invitation to attend our meetings but need not worry about having someone attend unless there’s a specific need to do so.

Treasurer’s Report: After Kerry presented an end-of-year statement showing an operating loss of $11,259  — the result of our two extraordinary expenses — Rachel reviewed her revised budget for 2020, which projects income and expenses at about $61,000 (as compared with our 2019 budgeted income of about $54,000 in income and $57,000 in expenses). Notable differences from the 2019 budget include significantly more money from endowed funds, $5,000 in income we’re expecting from an estate, $1,000 increase in our Turrell grant, $500 expense for the Kanopy service, $3,750 for the children’s programming director, a $2,400 increase in insurance costs to $3,780, and $5,000 in building maintenance for exterior painting. Rachel said she would check with the investment committee to get a figure on how much income might have been available to us from the endowment had we chosen to use it. 

Considering the cost of updating our Quickbooks software ($150 for each of the three users), Rachel’s not sure it’s worth the expense rather than just finding a better way for the treasurer, librarian and bookkeeper to communicate among each other. Kerry said he’ll see if there might not be better deals available.


Curt has talked to Frank Brown about the painting. The bulkhead tarp has been installed, with the help of Rocky Fuller. Curt is still arranging to replace the slate shingle that fell from the roof. He suggested that we might want to think about using endowment money to hire a landscaping company. The board wants to wait until the building is painted.

Cindy has met with Will Cooney, who is helping design the permanent sign in the front of the building with our name and hours. Rocky will do the woodworking. The board needs to choose a font and decide exactly what will go on the sign. Carol is going to work on the design and present some options at the next meeting.

Stuart Smith’s benefit concert took place earlier this month. Those who attended thought the music was lovely.

The personnel committee will meet with Melissa at the end of month or the beginning of February.

At 8:45, Marty moved to go into executive session to discuss personnel. The board agreed unanimously. The board returned to regular session at 9:07.

Our next meeting will be on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at the library.

Submitted by Marty Frank