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Budget Down, Programs Up in Chester Library

Tutoring programs and e-reader downloads on the rise.

While it is never easy to give a budget presentation to the entire assembled mayors and councils of Chester Borough and Chester Township, library director Lesley Karczewski had an easy time because she came loaded with good news.

“We had over 150,000 people walk through our doors and not all of them were there to take out books,” Karczewski said. “A lot of people come in for a program or to use our computers.”

According to Karczewski more than 300 programs were staged at the library in 2012 and over 5700 people came to them over the course of the year. One of the programs was a demo on how to download library books into e-readers. Karczewski also said the library launching a new website was a big accomplishment last year, she was most proud of the tutoring program which.

“Probably the thing I am proudest of is the student mentoring program pairing IB students from Mendham High School with Bragg School fifth graders,” Karczewski said. “Its working so well we’re having a waiting list so we reached out to Central High School to get a couple of mentors as well. They have a really good time and they don’t want to stop.”

Chester Borough Council President Tim Iversen asked if the mentors needed to be limited to IB students.

“No. It was kind of an easy group to capture,” Karczewski said.

Chester Township Mayor Bill Cogger suggested Karczewski reach out to AP students to help fill out the program and eliminate the wait list.

Cogger also said he was pleased that the budget went down, but Karczewski said they would have to be careful this year and beyond.

“We had to bring forward some savings from last year to balance the budget. If we continue to have to do that it is going to get harder and harder going forward,” Karczewski said.

Cogger asked that Karczewski communicate if she sees trouble on the horizon.

“If you see yourself reaching a shortfall we need to know about that as quickly as possible,” Cogger said.

Tracy Tobin February 14, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Libraries in NJ & Connecticut became warming shelters, communications facilities and refuges during Winter Storm Sandy. Over 5,000 residents, adults/children/seniors/business people made use of the Washington Township Library facilities during Sandy heavy usage. I am sure Chesters Library saw much of the same. The NJ Library Trustees Association have a seminar coming up re the libraries roll in Emergency Response activities during future emergencies. It is encouraging to see that Mayor Cogger and other local mayors see their libraries as resources for the community beyond the traditional sterotype ideas that some people have. The Libraries and Local Schools partnerships have been gaining strength over the past few years, as both parties seek to leverage their resources in tough economic times. The high school mentors, whether IB, AP or students volunteering with local schools should be applauded for their involvement.
Gene Osso February 15, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Great stuff - we're really lucky to have a great library and team in the Chesters!

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