The following emailed letter was sent to me, as well as members of the Middletown Library Board of Trustees, Middletown's mayor and some members of the media.
This email is for all those interested in the future, and aware of the history, of the Navesink Public Library. I recently heard that three branches of the Middletown Township Public Libary System were recommended to be closed by the Library Director, Susan O'Neal.
I appeal to you to address this recommendation with love for the community! I know many residents of Lincroft passionately feel the Lincroft Library should remain open and I suspect residents of the Bayshore area have concerns as well. I especially feel deep concern over the suggestion of closing the Navesink Library, which serves the residents of Navesink, Locust and other residents of Middletown Township. It is such a special library that was donated with such special intentions of enriching Middletown.
I am so concerned that the branch location page on the libary system site states the Navesink Library "is scheduled to close on January 25 at five 5:00 p.m." for what is understood to be closed permanently. How can the site state the library is scheduled to be closed when the Board of Trustees has not reached such a decision yet?
I read on Middletown Patch that Libary Board President, Lawrence Nelson, was open to suggestions that would would reduce the financial needs of the branch libraries. I have several! Volunteerism is one suggestion and I also suggest benefits to raise funds.
Addressing the Navesink Libary, I personally will volunteer there several hours one day a week and I know so many others that will happy to do so as well. I have a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature and my education exceeds that. Also, I will be happy to assist, even chair, any benefits that will raise funds for the Navesink Library.
Another suggestion is reduced hours/ reduced days of operation at the Navesink Library. Maybe if the library was only open after school hours until 5:00 a few weekdays and open on Saturday in the morning that will part of THE SOLUTION that includes volunteerism and fund raising benefits! The reduced schedule will also reduce the cost of heating and electric! Volunteerism will save on salaries and benefits for paid employees! Sounds good to me!
Another issue I want to address in regard to the Navesink Libary is the historical significance of it to the Middletown Library System and to Middletown itself. Since this was the first main branch of the Middletown Library System wouldn't it be wonderful to preserve it? Is it even legal to close it considering it was built and donated to serve as a library and a place to stage performances that the residents of Middletown could enjoy? Since it was built and donated for that purpose isn't a responsibility of the Library Trustees to honor the intent of that donation?
I have taken my little girl to story time at the Navesink Library for several years. The stories that Ms. Grace read and the craft that centered around a book that was also read that day were so wonderful! It has been an experience rich in benefits with children learning to love books and learning that what is read in a book can grow into something more than words and pictures on a page. What these experiences, shared in the warm, cozy and inviting atmosphere of the Navesink Library, has provided cannot be measured! I think it will be a shame to rob the children whom currently enjoy the Navesink Library, and the children that could benefit from it in the future, of this wonderful experience!
It would be false to think that the aboved experience can be matched at the main branch. It cannot. I have taken my daughter to the main library for Mother Goose and I have also taken her there just to do some reading in the children's section. I will tell you that only once a staff member at the main branch smiled at me and at my little girl! The environment is cold and unfriendly! When my child was very young I would drive to the main branch a week prior to Mother Goose each week JUST to sign my daughter up! The story time for children filled up very quickly and would often be closed to adding another child to the list! How is closing other branches going to effect the number of children that benefit from story time if the branches are closed and the number of children allowed to attend at the main branch is already very limited?
Let me add that the list to sign up for children's programs was often not in the spot is was supposed to be and when I asked to librarian in the children's section where it was I was meet with rudeness. Once the only response I received was a finger pointing in that direction! When I said it wasn't there, I received rolled eyes and, when she did walk over and see for herself that it was not there, she stated the list was not ready yet even though it was the afternoon of the day when the list to sign up is first is set out. I am a very pleasant and courteous person so I know that my questions should have been addressed in a more appropriate manner. There were other occasions when I have asked to locate the list I was told it was filled up already!
In addressing the limit of children that will be allowed to participate in the programs if the branches are closed, let us also consider the parking! Often, there is not enough parking at the main branch! Will funds suddenly be found to expand the parking lot? That would be sad when the funds could have preserved a library branch! The children that now walk to their local library when parents might be unable to drive them to the main library should also be considered. The Return of Funds back to the state of unused money is a consideration also because any money that could have been used to provide library services to the area should be used to continue to provide those services.
I have reached out to the media and to state offices. Maybe with the media attention this issue may receive, additional funds will be raised to save at least the Navesink Library! I appeal to you to not close the Navesink Library with its rich historical significance, its history of enrichment of the community and the promise it offers to continue to enrich the community.
Thank you very much,