Original article published in the Mower County Independent, Thursday, June 1, 2023. Reprinted with permission and gratitude.
By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Summertime, and the livin’s crazy at the Spring Valley Public Library (SVPL) simply because of the variety of business that the library staff and board have to handle to maintain SVPL as a community space that serves everyone. The May board meeting exemplified the hurry that the arrival of early June brings with it, including how to be prepared for the children’s summer reading program, how to manage the building and grounds, and what to do to plan for the fall budgeting process.
Library director Jenny Simon shared that she is grateful to the membership of the Friends of the Spring Valley Public Library for their generous volunteerism in taking on tasks that have gradually become responsibilities of library staff due to budgetary reductions that have affected the library’s ability to employ a larger staff. “The Friends offered to do some of the cutting and helping get crafts ready… and to help a little with the crafts,” Simon stated, adding that the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation (SVACF) had also contributed to the program’s impending success by providing a donation for the purchase of books for children who visit the library throughout the summer.
Discussion turned toward whether the library board and staff would choose to attend the Wednesdays on Broadway summer market in downtown Spring Valley in their official capacities to promote the library, but with the Friends’ presence there and the organization’s plan to represent the library’s best interests to the public, the board determined that it would be redundant for them to attempt to host a booth. Simon and the board shared once again how grateful they are to have the volunteers carrying out endeavors on behalf of the library.
Ongoing building maintenance issues were brought up because Simon noted that the State library construction grant had passed through legislature and that it was due to provide funding for numerous library improvement projects at libraries across the state once applications for grants have been received. SVPL’s most pressing issue is the replacement or repair of its stucco-like exterior covering that has chipped away and left large patches of wall unprotected. Simon has broached the topic during previous meetings and expressed exasperation at the shortage of available and actionable solutions in the midst of suggestions made by several different contractors or individuals. More recently, new board member Chris Danielson has offered to research the options that the board might pursue for replacing windows throughout the library and for upgrading the building’s exterior covering, returning to the board with information regarding the windows’ replacement and details of the conversation involving the building’s exterior. She shared that the papers she distributed mainly detailed the estimated cost of replacing windows that have proven to be difficult to operate or repair, but she added that she was aware of the necessity of fixing the library’s exterior and relayed that suggestions were still being made.
Board chair Kristina Rader and Simon acknowledged that while the library may not qualify for or receive construction grant funds, employing the services of a grant writer through Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) may be helpful in procuring those monies. Rader also stated, “We have a fund for the building, but we don’t want to deplete it.”
Library grounds news included Simon relating that the cement that will be poured to make a stable foundation for a picnic table donated through the Kiwanis Club may be installed without the removal of a tree that originally was considered to be in the way, allowing for shade over the table and making the library’s lawn a friendlier environment.
Budgeting processes are of particular concern to the library board this year as its members strive to present a balanced budget to the city council by the July 21 deadline and ensure that library staff is fairly compensated, as there had been a great controversy raised late last year regarding the gap in library staff pay and that of other City staff, whether the library board holds the authority to give the library staff pay increases, and how the board can obtain all the pertinent information to draft a budget that meets the library’s needs while being respectful of the City’s budget. Rader registered that she wanted to propose delaying the June board meeting by a week – from the third Thursday of the month to the fourth – and allot two hours’ time to review numbers and possibilities for the 2024 fiscal year, and the rest of the board concurred, choosing to set the next meeting for June 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Lastly, Simon updated the board on upcoming library programs, citing that the registration list for Willow’s Pet Painting has been filled and has a waiting list for the second class that the instructor will give as a free opportunity through the library, and she reminded board members that history photographer Doug Ohman will return to the library with his metal detectors in late June to teach participants how to use them now that he had given his program on metal detecting in late March and shared his new book on the topic of finding bits of history underground.
The board extended its gratitude for $400 donated by the Spring Valley Kiwanis Club for frames for the collection of Robert Clouse prints given to the library several years ago by Roderick Robertson, to the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation (SVACF) for $600 for the purchase of books for children participating in the summer reading program, to Vince and Laura Mangan for a gift to the SELCO Foundation in memory of Leonard Plaehn and in honor of Iola Thompson’s 90th birthday, to Jim and Sue Cavanaugh for a donation to the library in memory of Plaehn, to Marilyn Matson for her donation to the library in memory of Plaehn, and to the Friends group and volunteers who helped set up, run and load and haul books for the first annual book sale, as well as those who donated books for the sale.
The Spring Valley Public Library is open on Mondays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 7 p.m., with aspirations to return to holding Saturday business hours as well. The friendly library staff is available to assist with just about any inquiries, with a few exceptions. For more information, stop in at the library on the corner of Broadway and Jefferson streets in downtown Spring Valley, or call 507-346-2100.
Courtesy of the Mower County Independent, 135 E Main St. LeRoy, MN 55951, (507)-324-5325