Lansing library faces new era with diminished resources

The Lansing Community Library will re-open for curbside pick-up on June 15.  The library faces an uncertain year with diminished resources and a determination to continue key programs, according to Director Susie Gutenberger.
The Lansing Community Library will re-open for curbside pick-up on June 15. The library faces an uncertain year with diminished resources and a determination to continue key programs, according to Director Susie Gutenberger.
Photo by Matt Montague
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This will be a busy week for the Lansing Community Library – Library Director Susie Gutenberger’s agenda includes the results of the June 9 vote, the June 15 partial reopening and the launch of the summer reading program.

Annual Vote

This year’s vote included only the election of trustees. Darcey Rigdon and Debora Huber-Wang were expected to be returned for another term, while Isabelle Schweitzer was expected to be elected for her first term. All ran unopposed.

Approval of the library’s budget for 2021 was not on the ballot, as there was no increase in the tax levy.

“The board of trustees have been meeting virtually every month,” Gutenberger said. “The board decided to not ask for a tax levy increase in these uncertain times, even anticipating a 12% cut in county funding. The Friends organization had to cut their contribution since fundraising is down. Grants have all but dried up for now, and it is uncertain as to how granting entities will weather this financial crisis.”

Gutenberger discussed the mentality behind these moves.

“This was a hard decision to make knowing that we will have funding reductions, but it is the prudent thing to do,” she said. “We are a public library and we are used to doing more with less, being creative in presenting programs and finding new ways to do things with the funding that we have.”

Rather than run their own election process as has been done, the library saved the expense by asking the Lansing School District to include the trustee election on the school budget ballot, according to Gutenberger.

Future votes will be pushed further into the calendar to allow for better budgeting, Gutenberger said.

“Next year, we are looking at voting in the late summer or early fall,” she said. “When the library was started, we were on a July to June financial calendar and an April vote made sense. Now, we are on a January-to-December fiscal year, and so, it will be better to start budgeting later in the year when we have a better idea of how the year is going.”

Re-Opening Procedures

The library will re-open for “contact-less curbside pickup” on June 15 and continue on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Patrons are asked to place holds on books and other item via the library’s website or by telephone (533-4939) and, when alerted that the materials are ready, to come to the library, park in their designated spot and text (607-229-2539) or call the library when they arrive. Library staff will bring the items out in a bag. The outside book drop will be open for returns.

“We have to have a lot of things in place to even do curbside pickup, personal protective equipment and protocol, ways to sanitize everything in the building regardless of whether people are in it,” Gutenberger said. “Even if it is just the staff inside, there is a lot to go through to get everything in place and to show the state that we are ready to do this in a safe manner.”

Returned materials will be quarantined for 72 hours before becoming available for check-out, she said.

Gutenberger noted that she has also been busily buying books and getting them shipped here and retrieving Lansing’s materials from the inter-library loan system in anticipation of the re-opening.

In the near future, the library plans to “add hours and services as we can - just really see how this goes,” Gutenberger said.

“As New York opens, we want to be able to add different services and even allow people limited access to the building, but that’s all in the future,” she said. “The county has been so supportive of this. They have facilitated much of the cleaning supplies we needed, and hand sanitizer, gloves and masks. The county libraries worked together in a very dynamic way to make sure services are as much alike as possible.”

Summer Reading

The library’s popular summer reading program for children and adults will be virtual this year – it will run from June 16 to Aug. 21.

Participants will register and log their reading online and pick up their program materials (including a free book) during the curbside pickup hours. The program has five categories: pre-readers up to 4 years old; children aged 5 to 12; accelerated aged 5 to 12; teens aged 13 to 18; and adults over 18 years of age. Other activities include weekly “Take and Make Crafts” for curbside pickup and the annual logo design challenge.

“You can drop off your entries at the curbside pickup or you can email us a picture or you can post your entry online on the library’s Facebook page,” Gutenberger said. “At the end of the summer, the board will choose a winner that will be used for children’s programming through the rest of the year.”

Navigating a New Era

“We need to find different ways to engage and serve our patrons in this new era,” Gutenberger said. “This is all new for us – people can call with ideas, and we are open for suggestions and are hopeful that we can connect with our community and create dynamic services that meet the community’s needs.”

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