Friday, July 1, 2022

Raymond Village Library becomes town department with landslide vote

By Collette Hayes

The town of Raymond voted a decisive yes giving their approval to make the Raymond Village Library officially a Raymond Municipal Department. On June 15, the residents of Raymond cast their votes 529 in favor to 122 opposed in support of the Raymond Village Library becoming a town department.

Raymond residents voted 529 to 122 on Maine Primary Day
on June 15 for the Raymond Village Library to become an
official town department. FILE PHOTO
The library provides a vibrant and dynamic place where the community engages in personal enrichment. People of all ages are welcome and have free access to information that promotes and inspires their educational, recreational and cultural interests.

Prior to its inception as a town department, Raymond Village Library has been an incorporated non-profit organization. Under the cooperative relationship and interaction between past Chairman of the Board Selectmen, Teresa Sadak, and Raymond Village Library Board of Trustees President, Deb Hutchinson, discussions resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding which was presented at a town meeting to see if the town would accept the library under the conditions outlined in the MOU. The presentation of the MOU at the meeting resulted in approval.

In a recent conversation with Don Willard, Raymond Town Manager, most residents of Raymond assumed that Raymond Village Library was already a town department.

“I think the results speak for themselves,” said Willard. “From the results of the vote you basically have the townspeople saying a resounding yes to we want the library to be a town department.”

As a town department, the library would be able to broaden and add additional services, programming and opportunities for people of all ages. It would give the library more depth and breadth and support.

In the past the library has been dependent on fundraising efforts. The town was part of this effort by giving the library an appropriation every year. Now Raymond will assume the cost of the operations, the salaries and the benefits for the employees and it will make the whole organization more viable and sustainable.

“The Town has worked with the library for decades and they have worked really hard to have a quality library,” said Willard. “What they had to work with, they have done a tremendous job. It’s been a private nonprofit organization for many years and now it will be a municipal department. With the town financial support, and the support of the other town departments and what they can bring to the Library, I think you will see it better than ever.

“I’m really happy about it. I think it’s the right direction for the town,” Willard said. “We now have a way as a town to support the library in a way that we didn’t have before. Although there still will be fund raising that will continue, we have other resources that can be put into play to help the library achieve some of their goals such as the further development of programming and cultural offerings. I think it is a win-win deal.”

According to Allison Griffin, Director of the Raymond Village Library, there are two major advantages to becoming a municipal department.

She said there will be financial stability. Instead of having to wait halfway through the fiscal year to see what the library’s financial situation will be from fundraising, there will now be consistent funding. Programming can be planned, and acquisitions can be made throughout the year instead of waiting to make purchases after the major fundraisers are over in December.

Consistent and reliable funding will also help to retain highly qualified library staff, Griffin said.

Another major benefit of becoming a town department will be working with the Raymond Parks and Recreation Department due to common interest and being able to provide consistent scheduled programming.

“The full-time staff members will receive health insurance which we have never been able to provide,” said Griffin. It’s difficult to retain staff without providing health care benefits. Nothing internally will change. The Board of Trustees will transition into to a fund raising “Friends” support group. The collections, the staff and the services will remain the same.” <

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