The library is currently conducting two surveys, one via our electronic newsletter, and a second using the services of an intern from Three Rivers Community College. These endeavors are part of our commitment to providing the best possible service to the community. While both surveys are ongoing, the results of the electronic version reveal some topics which can be addressed now. (I might add that a slightly different version of this letter will appear in the next e-newsletter).
Not surprisingly, parking and security remain two topics eliciting many specific comments. While I will address both once the survey closes, at this juncture let me offer some observations regarding these issues:
Parking is a chronic concern, and references to the paucity of convenient city parking date to the 19th century. In the recent survey it was cited frequently as a deterrent when contemplating use of the library and local businesses. As many of you may know parking is a challenge for both patrons and staff. It costs the library approximately $10,000 a year to provide sufficient parking spaces for the staff, even with the city generously providing several staff spaces free of charge. I will not mention in detail the preemptive actions required of the staff to ensure that these spaces are available on a daily basis.
As for the public, while it offers no panacea, many of you may recall the survey conducted by Rose City Renaissance earlier this year. This lists a number of public parking locations in the general area of the library. Among the most convenient are 26 public spaces available in the Cliff Street Lot, 7 slots by the railroad station, all available for 2 hours at a time, free of charge, and 32 public spaces at the YMCA which are equipped with meters, and available for up to 8 hours at a cost of .25 per hour. One continuing omission is the lack of handicap parking in front of the library. It is our hope, after several discussions, that the city will remedy this situation. A parking map is also available on the library web site, http://www.otislibrarynorwich.org/ . Parking is a matter of concern to us, the business community, and the public. I will use the information gathered in the survey to inform city officials.
Security in the down town area evoked a number of comments from participants. Similar concerns were expressed in our previous surveys. In response to the disquiet reflected in those documents, the library now invests $20,000 annually in security officers who are stationed at the library Monday through Friday between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. This is no small sum, and required the shifting of operating funds from materials purchases (books, magazines, audio and videos) and the few other budget lines where expenses are not fixed. In addition, thousands more dollars of capital funds were invested in interior and exterior cameras, and $10,000 will be invested to deter loitering in front of the building. The city police department has shown great responsiveness and cooperation with the library, and I meet regularly with representatives from that department, the city manager, human services, and the business community as part of the Downtown Enhancement Group.
The actions cited above are part of our efforts to provide substantive responses to your concerns. I will continue to advocate for programs that will enhance the use of the library and business area. Thank you for your support and patronage.