By Cary Shuman
James Matarazzo, chairman of the Winthrop Public Library’s Board of Trustees, said the board will submit a plan to the Town Council that outlines a strategy to keep the library operating for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Interim Town Manager Larry Holmes had recommended closing the library as part of the town’s budget cuts, and Library Director Alan Thibeault was laid off from his position as director last week.
The council had voted at its February 9 special meeting to give the library what amounted to a 30-day reprieve to remain operational and to seek other sources of funding. Matarazzo said the library, after receiving a waiver from the state that allows it to be open 32 hours instead of the required 40 hours, has received an allotment of $20,000.
“Every public library in the commonwealth that meets minimum standards gets state aid,” said Matarazzo.
The library will also use monies from a special fund, called the Hyde Fund, and donations from residents to keep the library open 32 hours a week with a reduced staff. The trustees’ plan calls for the reinstatement of Thibeault to his position of director.
“We’ll have a plan by March 3 to keep the library open 32 hours a week, using the money [$15,000 for the first 30 days] the town has given us, plus the money we’re gathering,” said Matarazzo. “The Friends of the Library have offered to supply us with some funds. People have been coming into the library every day and giving us donations.”
Matarazzo indicated the library needs approximately $84,000 to remain open until July 1. The chairman of the trustees is confident the library will reach that goal.
“I believe that we’ll be able to announce to the Town Council [at its March 3 meeting] that the library has reached its fundraising goal,” said Matarazzo.
John Booras, a lifelong Winthrop resident who was using the library Tuesday for his work on a research project, was hoping for the best.
“I think the library is a valuable resource for everyone in the town,” said Booras. “I like this library very much. I used to come here and study when I was student at Winthrop High. There are a lot of good resources here. I’d miss the library and the people especially, if the library were to close. They’re always very helpful here.”