Municipalities gain insight into Seymour Library strengths and issues

Published May 6th, 2019 by Town Of Sweden

Residents turned out in strong numbers at the Sweden Town Park Lodge on April 30 for the presentation of the Bonadio Report, a look at the operations and finances of the Seymour Library. The three-month study looked into operational performance; cash management and transparency; governance and decision-making; asset responsibility and ownership; and planning.

The report addressed several questions: Did the Seymour Library have a million dollars? How much money does the library have now (and who has it)? How is Seymour performing versus other Monroe County libraries and compared to other similar libraries in New York State? Is Seymour’s performance improving or declining? Is the library under-funded or under-performing? How should the budget gap be addressed?

Questions continued with: Is the governance model optimal? Who should own and who should be responsible for library assets? What should be done going forward?

Total operating costs for the Seymour Library (2016) were $28.08 per capita (Sweden, Brockport and Clarkson population). That is on the low end of costs in Monroe County (15th of 17). However, when compared to 25 similar libraries across the state, Seymour performs in about the middle of the pack – 15th of 25.

Some of the key points included that circulation volume/door count/hours have eroded 10-11%; Seymour borrowing materials from other libraries has increased 128%; programs performance is “good” but flattening; computer log-ons have declined 34%; and meeting room request have increased 78%.

Some of the recommendations include: more funding for operations, however these funds must be for specific library materials and programs with measurable outcomes; regular financial reports should be submitted to the municipalities; a designated finance committee should directly oversee accounting and banking functions; municipalities should assume clear responsibility for the building and grounds; library board liaisons should eliminated (in order to remove a middle layer of governance); and a strategic plan should be developed.

Each of the three municipal boards plans to meet individually to discuss the report and its recommendations. The Seymour Library Board will do the same. Brockport Mayor Blackman, Clarkson Supervisor Filipowicz and Sweden Supervisor Johnson will meet to share their boards’ conclusions regarding the study and recommendations. All boards will then reconvene to develop a plan going forward.