Adams Library Pulls Service Animal Policy After Outcry

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Adams Free Library, currently undergoing renovations that will make it more handicapped accessible, is reviewing a policy on service animals to ensure it's not discriminatory.

ADAMS, Mass. — A policy on how to regulate certain animals within the library stirred up a firestorm of angry emails and posts questioning its legality and potential discrimination.

Library Director Deborah Bruneau on Monday said there was never an intent to discriminate against anyone. The policy has been sent to town counsel for review and the trustees have been contacted about tabling the vote taken at last week's meeting.

"My biggest mistake, other than not running it by town counsel, as far as I can tell, was including the word 'service' with 'therapy.' Our issue here has been with knowing whether an animal is actually a service animal or if it is just a pet," Bruneau said. "Pets are not allowed in the building. The therapy dog let loose in the building was a very bad experience for everyone present."

Many of the responses questioned the library's right to ask that the service animal owner to present any certification or to detain the owner at the front desk while other patrons are informed of the animal's presence. Bruneau said the only goal of the policy was to make sure the animals are kept under control and clean.

"I just wanted the staff to have a policy in place stating that animals in the building must be under the direct control of the owner at all times and that the owners must clean up after their animals," she said.

Bruneau said the policy will be revisited after town counsel reviews it.

"We would never discriminate against any service animal or person in this building," she said.

According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, service animals must be allowed in "all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go." They can, however, be required to be leashed and kept under control.

The American Library Association recommends that library staff ask if an animal is a pet: "If people say an animal is a service animal, take them at their word and let them bring the animal into the library with them."

The Library Trustees adopted a policy for service animals.

Original post: Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, 10:11 a.m.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Adams Free Library has instituted a service/therapy animal policy.

The Library Trustees adopted the new policy on Tuesday afternoon that creates a protocol for patrons who need their animals in the building.

Library Director Deborah Bruneau said normally animals are not allowed into the library but because of an influx in cases, the library needs a policy.

"My No. 1 fear is kids petrified of dogs and that kind of thing. The first incident we had there was a dog let loose in the library," Bruneau said. "I am hoping we are being fair to both the person with a service animal and as well as our patrons that is the basis of this."

The new procedure states that the first time a person with an animal enters the building the owner must provide the animal's certification to the front desk.

Because some patrons may be allergic or afraid of the animal, the owner will be asked to remain at the front desk while notices are hung up and the patrons are made aware of the animal's presence.

The owner must keep the animal under direct control at all times and keep the animal clean and clean up after it while it is in the building.

Bruneau also told the trustees that the library will have to be closed another three days to finish some renovation work.

She said the roof is largely complete except for a drain that has to be totally reconstructed. She said a lot of the work cannot be finished until the electrical work is complete. She said some of this work has been delayed for three months because the electricians cannot find a special panel.

She said although some aspects of the renovation have slowed, the front entrance is mostly complete.

"The big news is last Friday they opened the front entrance. It is not fully opened but the public side is opened," she said. "Most of the people that have been coming in have been very pleased."

Bruneau said the library will receive far less money in state aid this year because of state cuts. She said last year they received $10,114 but expects to receive $6,856 this year. She said the library has been working with the town to slowly increase its materials budget.  

She said the library's microfilm newspaper subscription will increase the materials line item by 9 percent so some state aid must be used. She said the former North Adams Transcript subscription cost $1,600 but The Berkshire Eagle's is $3,300 a year. 

Tags: ADA,   public library,   

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Adams Review Library, COA and Education Budgets

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen reviewed the public services, Hoosac Valley Regional School District and McCann Technical School budgets on Tuesday. 
The workshop at the Adams Free Library was the third of four joint sessions to review the proposed $19 million fiscal 2025 budget. The first workshop covered general government, executive, finance and technology budgets; the second public works, community development and the Greylock Glen. 
The Council on Aging and library budgets have increases for wages, equipment, postage and software. The Memorial Day budget is level-funded at $1,450 for flags and for additional expenses the American Legion might have; it had been used to hire bagpipers who are no longer available. 
The COA's budget is up 6.76 percent at $241,166. This covers three full-time positions including the director and five regular per diem van drivers and three backup drivers. Savoy also contracts with the town at a cost of $10,000 a year based on the number of residents using its services. 
Director Sarah Fontaine said the governor's budget has increased the amount of funding through the Executive Office of Elder Affairs from $12 to $14 per resident age 60 or older. 
"So for Adams, based on the 2020 Census data, says we have 2,442 people 60 and older in town," she said. "So that translates to $34,188 from the state to help manage Council on Aging programs and services."
The COA hired a part-time meal site coordinator using the state funds because it was getting difficult to manage the weekday lunches for several dozen attendees, said Fontaine. "And then as we need program supplies or to pay for certain services, we tap into this grant."
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