Next week will be an unusually busy one for the Great Neck Library, from its Monday election for two seats on the Board of Trustees, to its closing down of the main branch for an estimated year to the beginning of new operating hours for the remaining three library branches that should minimize the lack of main branch access.
Voters living north of Northern Boulevard can cast their ballots at the main branch while residents south of Northern can vote at the Parkville branch. The polls will be open from 10:00 AM to 10 PM. Ralene Adler is opposing Robert Schaufeld for one four year trustee position and trustee Joel Marcus is running unopposed for re-election for four years. Two positions for the nominating committee, also unopposed, are also up for election.
But the main branch shutdown on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on the 28th is a somewhat historic event. It has been surrounded by community concern in regard to its upcoming multimillion-dollar renovation, continuation of full services for patrons and the discovery of the existence of two Library corporations registered with the state, which has delayed issuance of the bonds (not to exceed $10.4 millions dollars).
The Board has already taken steps to dissolve the second corporation and the state was set to meet earlier this week to accept the Library’s position that the original charter, first registered in 1889, is the correct one. With that clarification, it is expected that the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) will proceed to issue the bonds.
“We believe the bonds will be sold in early December, ” Board President Marietta DiCamillo said. “The GNL has enough cash flow for the project to begin as originally indicated. The ‘move out’ period is scheduled to be completed on November 13. The construction bids are scheduled to be received no later than November 18. We are on track.”
Asked how long she felt the main branch would be out of service, she answered “No longer than a year, hopefully sooner.”
To make up for the lack of a main branch, the Library staff is shifting several services and materials to the other branches. The hours of operation of the Station, Parkville and Lakeville Branches have been increased. The new schedule has been posted on the library website (www.greatnecklibrary.org)
The Levels program, restarting Oct. 31, will run from 4 to 10 p,m at Saddle Rock School, Mondays through Thursdays, and switch to the Station branch on Fridays and Saturdays (6 p.m. to midnight).
“Children’s programs normally held at the Main Library are already being presented at the Station and Parkville Branches,” Interim Director Laura Weir said. “Adult programming will begin at Station in January. Three musical concerts will be held at Temple Emanuel. The Children’s Department has planned three holiday programs at Temple Emanuel. These programs are being co-sponsored by the NOAR Nursery School. We have also added additional computers at Station and Lakeville.”
“Many special collections have been moved into one of the three branches,” added Weir. “Station Branch will house a complete AV collection and an enhanced children’s collection.”
While Parkville and Station will be open Sunday afternoons, no branch will be open after 6 p.m. on Fridays. But that could change. “Closing Friday night is a trial effort that we will evaluate and revisit as needed,” Weir said. “We increased the hours of operation at Parkville on Monday night to 9pm…. Monday night always attracts a much greater number of patron visits than Friday night.”
The actual main branch closing date wasn’t firm until a committee meeting decision on Oct. 13 as it was first feared that the controversy regarding the “two” corporations and the state’s hesitancy to issue the bonds because of it, would cause delays to the entire project.
“The closing of the Great Neck Library was anticipated…to provide ample time for the movers to move everything out of the Main branch, explained DiCamillo. “We are not laying any workers off until after the packing up and moving of the Main branch and actually will cost us slightly more as we are retaining staff longer.
As to those layoffs, Weir said that 28 part time workers were being laid off. “Every one of them is welcome to apply for a position when the main library reopens,” she said. It was not clear how many positions would then be open.
Kris Bauman, president of the Great Neck Library Staff Association, said that the layoffs were in line with what the existing contract called for. The staff has been without a new contract and without raises for almost three years, but negotiations are under way. “We’re meeting later this month,” he said. “We’re really hoping that we can come to an agreement..”
“The way our contract is currently worked out,” he explained, “part timers have very little protection. There really wasn’t very much fighting we could do. No full timers are being laid off although I think a few have taken early retirement.” The laid off workers are eligible for unemployment insurance.