Sangerville group wants library to become town department

Posted Oct. 04, 2010, at 3:55 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

SANGERVILLE, Maine — An independent, nonprofit library that got its start in Miss Marizetta Dealley’s Hat Shop on Main Street in the early 1900s may become a department of the town.

The Sangerville Library Association is in the process of revamping its bylaws and, once that has been completed, library directors plan to meet with Sangerville selectmen to request that the library become a government function.

Town Manager Michelle Dumoulin said Monday that selectmen would have to review the proposal and determine how to carry it out, especially if it means more work for the two clerks in the town office.

“They’re already out straight,” she said of the clerks.

Residents would have final say in the matter during a town meeting vote.

“The biggest thing for us is it’s really, really hard to find someone to serve as treasurer,” librarian director Linda Hall said Monday. In addition, if the library — which for decades has been located in the Town Hall — become a department, it would protect the town since taxpayers contribute financially to it, she said. As a department, it would be audited, which hasn’t always been the case, Hall said.

Of this year’s $20,000 library budget, which includes funds for two part-time employees, the town donated $16,500. To augment those funds, the library association uses the interest from a $12,000 trust fund left by Alice Jackson and raises funds.

“Every year since the inception of the library, the town has always just given over a check to the library,” Hall said. “I got to thinking that they’ve been very, very lucky that there have always been reliable librarians and no one has walked off with the $16,500.”

Since the library is a separate entity, Hall said association members do not have to answer to anyone and the members could fold the library at any time if they so desired. “There’s nothing to hold us there really, except the people want us there,” she said.

“We don’t know what’s going to come in the future and I think for the future security of the library, to make sure that it goes on, that it makes sense to have it become a department of the town,” Hall said. “It holds us accountable for every red cent of the taxpayers’ money.”

While the library’s money is well spent and it has a dedicated treasurer, the person holding that position does not want it long term, Hall said.

Hall expects to meet with selectmen next month. “We’ll … see how [we] can we work together to keep the library truly a public library,” she said.

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