Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wheeler Memorial Library Maintains Essential Services


Photo caption: At the final stop of the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System's bookmobile at the Moore-Leland Library in North Orange, Dianne Salcedo and Manuel King, library employees; bookmobile driver David Ferland, and library volunteer Norman Flye, select materials to supplement the library's collections.



Wheeler Memorial Library Director Walt Owens has announced that the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System's (WMRLS) bookmobile service made its last stop today at the Moore-Leland Library in North Orange. The bookmobile, which provided supplementary deposit collections for Wheeler Memorial Library and other libraries across Western Massachusetts is the latest victim of the continuing state budget crisis.

Fortunately, the heavily used delivery service that allows library patrons to receive books and other materials from libraries across Massachusetts will continue unchanged, at least for now. According to Owens, this service is essential for library patrons to have access to a much broader range of media and books than the Orange libraries could possibly afford. "While we will miss the supplementary bookmobile collections", said Owens, "we are very pleased for our patrons to still be able to benefit from the access to materials from all Massachusetts libraries." The Wheeler and Moore-Leland Library patrons borrow approximately 10,000 books per year through the regional library's delivery service.

Owens reports that the Library Trustees are committed to maintaining programs and services during the current economic downturn. The use of reserve funds from bequests and accumulated state aid has allowed the library to maintain hours and staff at current levels, although those funds are very limited. "Orange residents need the library more than ever during hard times, and the Trustees and Library Staff are committed to being here for them," said Owens.

According to Mary King, Regional Librarian with WMRLS, a variety of things make this step necessary---a decade of budget problems, a more recent lack of drivers to take the bookmobile out and also a lack of technical services staff to promptly acquire and process a collection, and most recently the very real threat of huge budget cut for next year with possible mergers of regional library systems.

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