DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – Greenburgh town supervisor Paul Feiner has recently discussed the idea of consolidating village library administrations throughout the town to help save money, but that idea has been met with resistance from some library directors in the villages.
“Basically it comes down to the rivertown libraries do not see how they would benefit,” said Hastings Public Library director Sue Feir.
Looking for different ways to save money, Feiner brought up the idea of consolidating services between the village libraries and eliminating individual administrations for each library in favor of one branch.
“In effect there’s some consolidation already because everybody who has a card can use any library in the county,” Feiner said. “Greenburgh is more of a regional library so people from all over the county use our library, but only unincorporated Greenburgh pays.”
Feiner also said libraries could work on a common schedule and close on various days to accommodate one another while sharing staff members.
“It’s hard to see how we’d save money,” Feir said. “We’re cheaper to run. Closing a building doesn’t save much money.”
Dobbs Ferry Public Library director Jeff Ault echoed similar statements as he felt village libraries would take a hit if services were consolidated.
“In the long run it’s not going to save anybody any money,” Ault said. “The theory is nice, but I don’t think it’s quite practical. All the villages have fairly new buildings or renovations and again we wouldn’t be providing the services we presently do to our patrons. I think services would decline.”
Ault argued that the idea didn’t make sense because village libraries are separate entities in terms of funding so it wouldn’t benefit them.
“We’re all funded either by municipalities or special district votes or school district libraries depending on how things are set up, but were not funded by the Westchester library system,” he said. “They provide us with services and they’re funded by the state and the county, but 99.9 percent of our money is funded by the village of Dobbs Ferry and its taxpayers.”
Feiner does not believe consolidation has to hurt the performance of individual libraries though.
“The main thing is what can we do to maximize service,” he said. “The goal is not to cut back. The goal is to provide the same or better service.”
Feiner said the next step in the process is to meet with village library directors to discuss the idea further. While it may not be ideal to all the libraries, Feiner believes something needs to be done going forward.
“I think budgets are getting tighter so there are going to be more and more cuts so I think that the problem is the service is going to go down in all the villages over the next couple of years especially if the economy doesn’t improve because of tax caps,” he said. “We have to figure out a way of doing it differently and better with less resources.”