Wareham Library decertified

Mar 14, 2014

The state Board of Library Commissioners has decertified the Wareham Free Library, making the local institution ineligible for state grant money and ineligible to participate in the SAILS program, through which Wareham library patrons can borrow books and materials from other libraries throughout the region.

While such underfunding has been the case for years, the library has been able to retain certification through a "waiver of required municipal funding." With this year's budget plans including even deeper cuts in library funding, this year's request for such a waiver was denied.

It is the second time in five years that the library has been decertified.

According to a Board of Commissioners press release, "Denial of the MAR waiver results in immediate loss of certification in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program. Wareham will not receive State Aid to Public Libraries grants in the amount of $9,512.67. They are not eligible for grants from either the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program or the Library Services and Technology Act Program, and neighboring libraries are not required to extend borrowing privileges to Wareham residents."

Wareham Library Director Deneise Medeiros said that, unless that decision changes, Wareham library patrons won't be able to borrow material that doesn't belong to the Wareham library.

The library would continue to be a member of SAILS, a group of inter-connected libraries that serves 40 communities in Southeastern Massachusetts, but would not have access to the book-sharing services.

"Basically we'll go back to being a standalone library," Medeiros said.

Wareham has received a waiver for the municipal appropriations requirement set by the state every year since 2008, but the Board of Library Commissioners voted at their March meeting this year to deny the waiver.

According to the release, "Over the past several years, the cumulative reduction to the library has resulted in present funding that is more than 50 percent below the municipal appropriations requirement."

The latest budget draft for the town would give the library $125,000 to work with, but Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said trying to keep the library open with such little money might be a wasted effort.

"Honestly I don't see that (budget) figure changing without an override" of tax-limiting Proposition 2-1/2, Selectman Judith Whiteside said. She added: "A town without a library is a disgrace."

Medeiros said the town has until next week to file an appeal.