1. New Board & Reception
I want to welcome the three new additions to the Board, Ralph Sabatini, Jeffrey Sasson, and David Zuckerberg. I would like to plan a reception for the staff to meet the entire Board at its quarterly staff meeting for the first quarter of 2014. I recommend Friday morning, January 31, at 9:30am. The Library doesn’t open until 11:00am on Fridays, which is why that is the best time to meet the staff and interact informally with them
I also wish the very best to Jeffrey Greenberg, Matthew Mulrooney, and Thomas Ninan, the three retiring Board members.
I’m especially grateful to the full 2013 Board for hiring me and for their support. I will continue to do the best job I can in 2014 and look forward to working with the newly reconstituted Board of Trustees of the New City Library.
2. Parish Report and Physical Plant
Given the recent rainstorms and the numerous buckets placed in the meeting room to catch the leaking water, fixing the roofs or installing new roofs should have the Board’s immediate attention. Thanks to the Parish Report, the estimated cost for doing the work and the suggested priorities for getting the work done are available to the Board and provide a useful basis for the Board’s decision making. The Parish Report is an extensive document. It can be accessed by going to the heading Physical Plant Assessment [December 20, 2013] on the Library’s Home Page, newcitylibrary.org/, and clicking on the link below the paragraph under that heading: Click here to download the full report.  Click here to download the accompanying photos. 
3. AV Grant
The last review of the Children’s Department plan has been completed. All of the furniture and shelving has been ordered and should show up in February. We have reason to believe that the work will be completed by the end of March. It will be a thrill to welcome everyone in the renovated children’s room and show off the new resources and the user-browsable DVDs, CDs, and games—which everyone will be free to take out directly from the display shelves.
Great progress has been made on the Adult Services Department portion of the grant. We expect as early as the week of the Board meeting (January 13-17) the completed drawings including the furniture and shelving specifications. As well, Jan Degensheim, Architect Planner, P.C., have been recalled to assist with the construction and interior design aspects for the Adult Services Department.
The grant, although it doesn’t reimburse for architect’s fees, it does allow for management fees for the architect for assisting with construction and design specifications.
At this point we are confident that the terms of the grant will be met and that the required expenditures will have been made within the terms of the grant.
4. ALA Midwinter
The library director usually attends the ALA Midwinter and Annual Meetings both for professional development and with specific tasks in mind. For the upcoming ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia (January 24-27) I will pay special attention to the furniture vendors who will be exhibiting, meet with the library’s major vendors (Baker & Taylor for books and Midwest Tape for DVDs), and check out the wares of their competition and what is new that may be of particular interest to the Library. I also will network and see what kinds of things are going on in other libraries.
According to my contract with the Library I must specifically request Board approval if my projected expenses will exceed $2,500. I am confident that my expenses for the entire trip (mileage, parking, cabs, lodging, meals, etc.) will not exceed $1,500.
5. Religious Observances in the Library
I had some difficulty in December. A member of the Knights of Columbus came to see me in my office to request that he be allowed to place a crèche in the same position that a menorah occupied in the AV section of the basement. He strongly felt that if there was an observance of Chanukah in the Library that there should be an observance of Christmas. He made the argument that a Christmas tree was not the equivalent of the “miracle” of Chanukah, i.e. the one-day supply of holy oil that burned for eight days, but that the symbolism of the crèche was. I decided not to debate him on the matter, and out of the sense of equity for which he argued, I agreed to permit the crèche so long as it was similar in size to, and space occupied, by the menorah.
He was willing to accept the principle of no religious observances in the Library, but insisted that if there was a menorah there had to be a crèche.
I recommend that the Board adopt the policy that:
There cannot be any religious observances or symbols in the Library’s public spaces.
This policy would not apply to non-public spaces.
Specifically exempt would be the observances of Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween.
Mitch Freedman, Director
January 10, 2014