By Cary Shuman
James Matarazzo, chairman of the Winthrop Public Libraryâ€™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 townâ€™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.
â€œEvery public library in the commonwealth that meets minimum standards gets state aid,â€ 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 trusteesâ€™ plan calls for the reinstatement of Thibeault to his position of director.
â€œWeâ€™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 weâ€™re gathering,â€ said Matarazzo. â€œThe 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.â€
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.
â€œI believe that weâ€™ll be able to announce to the Town Council [at its March 3 meeting] that the library has reached its fundraising goal,â€ 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.
â€œI think the library is a valuable resource for everyone in the town,â€ said Booras. â€œI 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. Iâ€™d miss the library and the people especially, if the library were to close. Theyâ€™re always very helpful here.â€