01/09/14 10:27am
01/09/2014 10:27 AM

FILE PHOTO | Southold Free Library closed for repairs Thursday.

Update: The Southold library opened up at 1 p.m. this afternoon.

Original story: Southold Free Library will remain closed until repairs can be made to its heater. Overnight, the Main Road library’s gas burner stopped working, causing temperatures to drop inside the building, director Caroline MacArthur said Thursday morning.

Until the problem can be fixed, Floyd Memorial Library director Lisa Richland said Southold residents are welcome to use the facility in Greenport.

Ms. MacArthur said the library would reopen as soon as the repairs were complete, but did not have a timeframe Thursday morning.

07/03/12 2:25pm
07/03/2012 2:25 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Susan Coscetta of Southold considers her choices at the library Tuesday morning.

The Southold Library wants to get a sense of how people in Southold and Peconic use their library and what they’d like to see offered in the future.

Last week, the library mailed a survey to 4,700 households, said library director Caroline MacArthur. She estimates the survey should take participants about five minutes to complete.

“We went for simple, quick,” she said. “I know as a working mother if it’s going to take me more than a couple minutes, I’m not reading it.”

Ms. MacArthur said the library has already received 100 responses from residents and 28 people have answered the survey online.

Even though only one copy of the survey was mailed to each household, she said, the library would appreciate it if every member of each household, including children, gives their feedback. They can do so online or in person at the library.

The survey includes questions about what services patrons use and the frequency of use, what they’d like to see more of and whether the facilities are adequate.

Ms. MacArthur said the survey was mailed, instead of simply made available in the library, with an eye toward getting feedback from people who might not use the library. It was paid for by the Friends of the Southold Library at no public expense.

“We’re hoping to get a feel for the best direction to go in the future,” the director said. “How are people actually using today’s library? Are they coming in for things? Are they using it remotely?”

She said the survey isn’t necessarily connected to the library’s failed expansion attempt two years ago.

“This isn’t going to result in an expansion proposal unless the information in favor is overwhelming,” Ms. MacArthur said. “We can improve some aspects of service without putting a burden on people who are happy with the library the way it is.

“More people are coming to programs than ever before. The numbers keep rising every year,” she added. “Computer use keeps going up. We’re looking to accommodate the way people will be using libraries in future. I’m hoping everyone will answer it.”

The library staff will be compiling surveys through the end of July and hope to process the data in August.

Take the survey here.

[email protected]

04/01/11 4:03pm
04/01/2011 4:03 PM

The Southold Library is taking the hint from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who earlier this year proposed a 2 percent cap on property tax hikes.

The State Legislature has yet to act on the governor’s proposal, but the library’s pending 2012 budget carries a property tax hike of 2 percent.

If voters say yes, library spending will rise by $15,308 to $831,860. The tax rate will increase by 72 cents to $25.46 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The increase includes $9,000 in small pay raises for the library’s 21 employees and minor increases in building maintenance and contractual expenses, said Library Director Caroline MacArthur.

“The board of directors and I feel very strongly that now is not the time to enhance services or programs, but to make every effort to continue with current offerings,” said Ms. MacArthur. “We are hoping the community will support this and understand the philosophy of staying very fiscally conservative.”

The new budget includes the same amount as last year, $75,500, for library materials. Ms. MacArthur said that the library is short on shelf space and is currently removing one book for every book added to the collection.

The library suffered a blow last year when it’s $7 million expansion project failed by a wide margin. The director said that the library didn’t spent as much as usual on maintenance last year in the hopes of upgrading the building through the failed expansion.

Ms. MacArthur says Southold residents with budget questions can call her at 765-2077.

The library budget will be on the same ballot as the Southold school budget on May 17. Voting takes place in the high school gymnasium from 3 to 9 p.m.

02/23/11 1:26pm
02/23/2011 1:26 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Maggie Merrill outside the Southold Library on Tuesday morning.

In the two-plus centuries years since the Southold Library was established, the board of directors has never had a woman president.

That is, until last Wednesday.

Maggie Merrill, a board member since 2005, was elected last week to a one-year term as president after former president David Fujita was required by the board’s term limit policy to step down.

Her election ends the male-only streak dating back to the library’s founding in 1797.

Ms. Merrill didn’t learn of the history-making aspect of her election until after the vote.

“I said, ‘Wow! I can’t wait to go home and tell my kids,’” she said. “I have very big shoes to fill from the outgoing president. We’re grateful he stayed on. He knew the project so well.”

Ms. Merrill is a former television commercial producer who has also worked in the print publishing industry and public radio in both New York and Hawaii. She and her husband J.C. Merrill moved to Southold 12 years ago to raise a family.

Now the mother of two girls, ages 9 and 11, Ms. Merrill credits the library’s programs with helping turn her daughters into voracious readers. She served on both the library’s long-range planning and fund-raising committees, leading up to the library’s failed expansion bid in October.

“She has just been an integral part of the workings of the board. She’s great,” said library director Caroline MacArthur. “She was a huge part of the expansion plan. David did a lot of hard work for the library. I’m sure Maggie will continue in that same way.”

Last year Mr. Fujita completed two five-year terms on the board. He was asked to stay on for an extra year as the board prepared to present the $7.25 million expansion to the public. The library board’s bylaws prohibit members from serving more than two consecutive terms unless extenuating circumstances require them to stay on longer.

“He had obviously been so deeply involved in the expansion that it would have been problematic for him to leave,” said Ms. MacArthur.

Ms. Merrill’s family had a summer house in Southold when she was a child. She believed it would be an ideal place to raise children while working at home making jewelry from beach glass and building driftwood sculptures.

She’s now devoting some of her time to increasing public awareness of the diverse ways people use library services and the need for more community space. There’s been a significant increase in the number of teenagers taking advantage of library services, Ms Merrill said.

“When I was a little kid in Southold, teenagers were hanging out on the stone wall in front of the library,” she said. “Now they’re inside, which is really cool. But there’s no space for them all and I don’t want them back out on the wall. I want there to be a place for them to go.”

Libraries have become community gathering places, she added.

“There’s not the stern librarian shushing you constantly,” Ms. Merrill said. “There are a lot more programs that are very social.”
Although the initial expansion project failed, the trustees continue to search for ways to add additional floor space.

“We are going to move forward,” she said. “The need for space did not go away. The bond vote was a good lesson. We see it not as a defeat but almost as a challenge and an opportunity to do better.”

The library is halfway through a three-year capital plan to raise the $1.25 million. Ms. Merrill said they have raised $995,000 to date, including two recent bequests from former Town Trustee Bill Albertson and former Southold history teacher Bruce Staiger.
Last year’s expansion plan called for the library to bond $6 million and cover the remaining costs through fund-raising.

[email protected]