2011-08-12 / Front Page

Resident Seeks Approval For Historic Image Digitization

By Stephanie Petrellese

Since March, Garden City resident William A. Bellmer has been requesting Garden City Public Library Director Carolyn Voegler, Ph.D. and the Board of Library Trustees to join a digitization program, “Long Island Memories,” sponsored by the Long Island Library Resources Council (LILRC).

Bellmer has a personal collection of historic images of the Village, and many others exist in the Village archives and in other collections. He is volunteering his time and effort to digitize and describe the images and upload the data to the LILRC Web site from his home computer. He took the necessary courses in March, and has since been waiting for library board approval to begin. Bellmer claims he does not need any equipment from the library or assistance from library staff.

At Monday evening’s library board meeting, Bellmer asked the status of his request to include the Village in the program through the library. Voegler responded that she was waiting for correspondence from a LILRC representative ensuring that the digitizing software is permitted to be installed on a home computer. Bellmer said the day after last month’s library board meeting, when Voegler said she would need written confirmation, Bellmer contacted the rep and she sent Voegler an e-mail confirmation, on which he was cc’d. Voegler claims she never received the e-mail.

Bellmer was dismayed at Voegler’s denial and held up a photocopy of the email which listed Voegler as the addressee. “I don’t know how to solve this problem,” Bellmer said.

“No, it’s not a problem,” responded library trustee Barbara Brudie Martis.

“No, it is,” Bellmer calmly retorted.

“No, it’s not,” Martis argued. “We’ll take a photocopy of this, we’ll provide it to the board, and we’ll address it at the next meeting after we have had an opportunity to digest it.”

Bellmer asked what else the library needs in order to make a decision. Vice Chair Gloria Weinrich, who was presiding over the meeting in the absence of Library Board Chair J. Randolph Colahan, suggested that Bellmer contact Voegler before next month’s meeting to ensure everything is in order. Colahan was excused from the meeting since he was in North Carolina attending his daughter’s wedding.

Library Trustee John H. Pascal said they still have to determine who will pay for the program after the first year. However, he reassured Bellmer that the issue will be resolved by the next library board meeting on Sept. 12.

Bellmer first learned about LILRC’s program during a visit to the Hempstead Public Library, which is a participant along with more than 30 other Long Island public libraries. Several libraries located on the campuses of local colleges and universities are also involved in the program.

The program will cost $225 annually, and the Village has agreed to pick up the tab for the first year. Bellmer would like to begin with the images in his collection, many of which have been seen in recent photo exhibits at the library. Then, he hopes to move on to digitizing the contents of the Village archives, which contain more than 1,000 items. He said one of the more challenging aspects of the project is to describe the contents of each image posted to the site since the originals often have scant data.

“In this way the images can be easily available for research and general interest, rather than requiring access to the originals, which of course must be protected,” Bellmer explained.

For more information on the digitization program with images other libraries have supplied, visit www.longislandmemories.org.

In other meeting news, Weinrich said she was disturbed by an unsigned note the library board received asking the library hours to be reinstated because residents pay high taxes. The library board held a special meeting on July 23rd and voted to change the hours of operation as a costsaving measure. Effective Sept. 6 through May 31, 2012, the library will close on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m. On Thursday, the library will open at 1 p.m. No decision has been made on whether the library should be open on Sundays in the fall.

“The taxes don’t come to us,” Weinrich said. “The taxes have to go through the trustees.”

Library Trustee Elizabeth Huschle said it would be nice if the person signed the note so someone on the board could call and let him or her know they are doing the best they can.

Pascal announced that the cost of being a member of the Nassau Library System has increased significantly. Some libraries are objecting to the cost increase. The NLS facilitates the interlibrary loan of materials, and provides many other services to public libraries. The Garden City Library has been utilizing the interlibrary loan service more often as they have not been able to afford purchasing as many books as in previous years.

The NLS uses a formula to determine how much each library must pay and will be holding a meeting soon on the issue. Pascal said the library board should not support changing the formula because if the formula is changed, Garden City will likely pay more.

Voegler said the formula is based on a library’s budget. The library pays $9,000 for NLS, and the cost will increase to $33,000 over a few years’ time. This assumes that the library’s budget will increase each year, but Voegler said that might not happen.

Weinrich explained that some Village libraries objected because they believed they were being overcharged, and smaller libraries “felt as though they were going to go out of business.”

The library board listened to a presentation from Elizabeth Olesh, manager of outreach systems for the Nassau Library System. Olesh would like the library to hire her to assist as a facilitator in long-range planning. This type of planning helps libraries and other organizations allocate their resources more effectively. The library board did not make a decision Monday night.

Olesh is less expensive than private facilitators, who she claims charge up to $2,000 a day for their services. “It’s quite a deal if you use me,” she said.

When contacted the next day by e-mail and asked her fee, she responded, “I don’t charge anything to public libraries in Nassau. My services are provided to our member public libraries as part of my job at Nassau Library System.”

Olesh forms a 25-member committee comprised of community leaders and at least one member of the library board member and staff. She initially asks the group what they would like their community to look like in 10 years. They are asked to focus specifically on needs which the public library can reasonably address and on which can possibly take action. The entire process takes six to eight months.

Bellmer was the only resident attending the meeting, which he said are often sparsely attended. Library board meetings usually take place on the second Monday of every month in the library’s boardroom on the main level. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 12. In October the meeting will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Agendas can be found on the Village of Garden City’s Web site.

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