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North Adams Library Again Seeks State Funding Waiver

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The public library will again have to apply for a waiver because of shortfalls in the budget, however, the trustees hope to open up a dialogue with the city about properly funding it.
Library Director Sarah Sanfilippo told the trustees last Wednesday that the fiscal 2022 city budget will not cover the state's determined funding level for the library, and she will have to apply for a waiver in order to retain some critical services.
State-certified libraries not only receive state aid but access to services such as the C/W MARS interlibrary loan. Without certification, the North Adams Public Library would stand alone.
To receive these services the libraries must meet a funding standard determined by a formula.
Sanfilippo said, per the formula, the library needs to be funded at $387,989 but the city has budgeted closer to $378,000 just $10,000 shy of the state's calculation.
The library has applied for a waiver several times and in order to successfully receive a waiver, the city must show that it has not cut the library disproportionality to other departments.
Trustee Tara Jacobs was discouraged that the city did not dish out the extra $10,000 that would have eliminated the need for a waiver. She said the services the library could lose have a much higher value.
"How frustrating is that? If they gave us just under $10,000 more we would be fine," she said. "I think that is the conversation that we needed to have."
Without certification, patrons could not use the interlibrary loan system in North Adams or in any other library that is accredited.
"We need to talk about this and make this clear to the City Council," Jacobs said. "We need to start the conversation and continue the conversation."
The trustees hope to schedule a meeting with the City Council in advance of the fiscal 2023 budget hearings. 
The city has five years to get its library funded at the proper level. Last year, libraries were held harmless because of the pandemic. 
"We have needed a waiver for a very long time and we have been in danger of being shut off by the state," Jacobs said. "So we were saved by COVID."
In other business, Sanfilippo said the public is adapting to the new library hours that include Saturday hours and extended Wednesday evening hours 
"Now we are up to our full hours," she said. "Last Saturday, we had a large number of people which is good, so we will see how that goes."
The library moved extended evening hours from Thursday to Wednesday, with hours from 10 to 8. Weekend hours were also added.
Sanfilippo said events are being expanded with COVID-19 guidelines in mind. Staff have been encouraging social distancing and limiting the number of people who can sign up for events. The 10 mobile hotspots that are available for patrons to lease have been slowly rolled out.
"The staff has been testing them out," she said. "We had one person take one to Florida and it worked well."
The small hockey puck-sized units provide wifi access. They can be picked up at the reference desk.
The trustees welcomed new member Sara Russell-Scholl, children's and youth services supervisor at the Berkshire Athenaeum. The North Adams resident previously worked at the library for seven years, the last several as the youth services librarian.
The appointment is made by the mayor and this fills out the trustees' ranks.
The trustees also changed when their meetings are held from 3:15 to 5:30 p.m.

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MCLA Women's Soccer Falls in OT

MCLA Sports Information
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Salem State's Jasmine Moran scored the game's only goal in overtime to lift the visiting Vikings to a hard fought 1-0 win over MCLA at Shewcraft Field Saturday afternoon.
Prior to the contest, MCLA (0-11-1, 0-5-1 MASCAC) honored their four seniors as part of Senior Day.  Honored prior to kickoff were Jess Halverson, Haley Rode, Jackie Murphy, and Maddie Gibney.
Both teams had some quality chances throughout the game but nobody could find the back of the net. In the opening half, MCLA's Claudia Bresett ripped a shot that went just high while Salem's Moran and Allie Vaillancourt also had good looks. At halftime, the game remained scoreless even though the Vikings (4-10, 3-2) held a 9-3 shot edge.
The second half was more of the same, but both keepers, MCLA's Mady Breese and Salem's Lily Pfefferle, each kept the zeroes on the board.
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