Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Adams Memorial Library,
Central Falls, RI

Dan Barry of The New York Times reported on Friday, September 30th, that the little bankrupt city of Central Falls, RI, is struggling to save Adams Memorial Library:
Adams Memorial Library, Central Falls, RI
In July, a state-appointed receiver closed the library to save money.

The six staff members lost their jobs, while residents lost access to the statewide network that allowed them to borrow from the libraries of other towns.

The handsome building went dark, its books unread, its videos unwatched, its computers unavailable to those looking for jobs.

But some people refused to close the book on a place that deeply mattered to this financially poor, ethnically rich city. Central Falls has more than enough boarded-up buildings; no need to add its library, too.
However, though operating costs are covered by the city, the building itself is owned by a private trust. The trust’s board of directors decided to make repairs and reopen the building with volunteers.
Jerauld Adams, center, and Thomas Shannahan, right, outside the library they helped reopen, by Evan McGlinn for The New York Times
On August 1, the [library] reopened with limited hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Its reference and checkout desks are now staffed by a rotating band of volunteers, including Jerauld Adams, 41, the board chairman of the library trust, and Thomas Shannahan, 68, a board member and former director of the library.

They hung a sign on the front door that said, with some defiance: “Welcome to YOUR library.”
The future is uncertain, since there is no long-term funding stream.
One proposal, for example, calls for regionalizing service; Central Falls residents would join the Pawtucket library, while the Adams library would have no specific purpose.

In other words, proud Central Falls would lose some autonomy, and a piece of itself.

Mr. Adams, the library trust’s chairman, prefers a more innovative plan that would cobble together state aid, grant money from foundations, and the trust’s endowment to pay for a smaller staff and a return to the statewide library system. Cost-saving methods would include having the city’s school librarians work a shift a week at the Adams library.
All I can say is, "More power to them."


Anonymous said...

Just writing to thank you for your coverage. The event brought together an amazing group of people, from volunteers to patrons to sponsors to vendors and beyond, all united to rebuild the half-shuttered heart of a community.

In the immediate aftermath of the fundraiser, we are proud to announce that the library has increased its service from three days a week to five and as contributions still flow in from all parts of the nation and beyond, we are looking forward to rolling out exciting new programming for the community in the weeks and months ahead.

Mike Shell said...

Central Falls Friends,

I'm glad for your progress.