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Cariddi's Estate Keeps Showering North Adams Library With Gifts

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The trustees are considering creating an endowment fund with the monies left to library by the late Rep. Gailanne Cariddi.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi continues to surprise the library with gifts, with her estate giving it another $20,000 with possibly more to come.
 
Cariddi left $7,500 earmarked for astronomy-related materials and programming, however, Library Director Mindy Hackner added another small account of $4,000 was also left to the library as well as another $17,820.
 
This latest gift of $20,000 comes with no strings attached.
 
Hackner asked the library trustees Wednesday what they thought they should spend the additional money, and suggested setting up an endowment fund of some kind.
 
"You probably need to look at investing in a long-term financial vehicle of some kind, so we can keep it and have some dividends returned," she said.
 
Hackner said there may be more money available after Cariddi's will is settled, which is believed to likely take a year.
 
Cariddi, a longtime city councilor, died last June after representing North County for nearly seven years. She had been involved in the family business, Cariddi Sales Co., before it closed several years ago. 
 
Library officials were a bit surprised last year to find it had been named as a beneficiary under an insurance policy and apparently left cash benefits in her will.
 
Chairman Harris Elder felt whatever the trustees decide to do it should be something permanent. 
 
"I think that we should consider something that will last," he said. "We spend money and there is nothing to show for it. It should be something that in 10 years someone can say 'this is from Gail Cariddi.' " 
 
Trustee Richard Taskin asked if there was a discussion on purchasing a telescope.
 
Hackner said the library already has one and to purchase a more serious telescope would run about $10,000.
 
Trustee Nicole Gordon suggested possibly putting the funds into the belvedere and renovating and repurposing it as an observatory.
 
Hackner said any substantial work on the belvedere is out of the question with the amount of money available.
 
"The renovation of that belvedere is a $1.5 million project and that is modest," she said. "I don't see that ever getting done. I see it getting stabilized one day so it doesn't fall down but it is basically unusable space."
 
Trustee Rich Remsberg agreed with Hackner's original plan to set up an endowment fund that could possibly garner more funds.
 
"I think we are at a historic moment with Gail's gift and there is nobody who is as universally loved as she was," he said. "That comes with a significant financial commitment and with the goodwill that her name fosters, I think we may be able to do a lot of these things."
 
The trustees will ask the city solicitor how to set up this fund.
 
In other business, the trustees agreed that they were not in favor of closing Mondays and going to a 40-hour week as recommended by the city. 
 
"I am thinking that I came here to build the library up not participate in having it be decreased," Hackner said. "These are the kind of hours that Stockbridge and Lee have but they have half of our population so I don't think we should go there."
 
Hackner said the issue came up in late February when scheduling challenges forced the library to close on a Saturday. She went to Administrative Officer Michael Canales, who recommended that the library scale down from 46 hours to 40 and have a Tuesday through Saturday workweek.
 
Hackner said initially it seemed like a good idea to better balance scheduling but she quickly had second thoughts.
 
"I understand what he is trying to do but it is the wrong decision for us. We are not like other departments that can become more efficient and we would lose our primary focus, which is public service," she said. "This is the slow death of an organization and when you cut six hours you don't get it back." 
 
Hackner optioned moving the schedule around and limiting hours on Monday to noon to 8 p.m. but the trustees were hesitant to make any change.
 
"It is a permanent solution for a temporary problem so lets live with it," Elder said. "It is not going to happen all of the time and it is not going to make the problem go away."
 
The trustees agreed to write a letter to the administration supporting being open Monday.
 
Hackner said there was a scare during a recent snowstorm and an ice jam on the roof caused water to leak into the vault.
 
She said everything was moved out of the vault and nothing was damaged. She said the roof will be fixed but the vault materials will only be put back in when the snow stops.
 
"We have been checking every day and everything seems to be OK, but we are still worried about the amount of snow up there," she said. "It hasn't happened again, but we are just waiting until the northeasters are over."

Tags: Cariddi,   endowment,   library trustees,   NAPL,   

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