Compiled by Mary Anne Antonellis, Director
The Board of Library Trustees:
Kate Cell and Molly Moss, co- chairs
10 Cooleyville Road - PO Box 256 - Shutesbury, MA
Table of Contents 2
Community Profile 3
Library Profile 4
Mission Statement 6
Goals and Objectives 7
Action Plan Fiscal Year 2018 8
Trustee Approval 11
Shutesbury is a small rural town in Franklin County. It was established as Roadtown in 1735 and incorporated as Shutesbury in 1761, named for Governor Samuel Shute.
Situated in the Five College area, Shutesbury is a neighbor to Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, and Mt. Holyoke colleges as well as the University of Massachusetts. These academic institutions have drawn a culturally diverse population to Shutesbury. Residents range from professors, college staff, graduate and undergraduate students to teachers, farmers, contractors, artists, gardeners, and professionals in medicine, law, and telecommunications.
Shutesbury has a population of approximately 1,771 and a total area of 27 square miles. Much of the town is undeveloped and is home to bear, moose, and other wildlife.
In the later half of the 1900’s the town’s population increased dramatically. It grew from 489 in 1970 to 1,800 in 2,000 with a growth rate of more than 300 percent. The population from the 2010 US Census is 1771 suggesting the population has stabilized. In 2004 the town undertook an extensive survey and put together a comprehensive Master Plan to help manage its growth and maintain its character as the small New England community that has attracted so many new residents.
Some of the key issues cited in the plan are preservation of natural resources and open space, community facilities and services, economic development, low-income housing, transportation, historic preservation, and zoning. In 2008, the Town adopted new zoning regulations that address the key issue of preserving natural resources and open space.
The Town is currently engaged in a Community Visioning Process, the beginning steps of developing a new Master Plan to replace the now expired plan.
The Town is governed by an Open Town Meeting. Our chief elected officials are a three member Select Board. The town employs a full-time Town Administrator who manages town business on a day-to-day basis, under the direction of the Select Board.
Currently, 120 children attend Shutesbury Elementary School, in grades preK through sixth. Upon graduation, public school children attend middle and high school at the regional schools located in Amherst.
There are no retail
businesses located in Shutesbury. Residents must travel to neighboring
communities for the most basic commodities.
The M.N. Spear Memorial Library is housed in a one room library, 900 square feet, built in 1902, in rural Shutesbury, Massachusetts. While the Library remains one of the smallest in the commonwealth, it is also one of the busiest. In Fiscal Year 2015, the M.N. Spear Memorial Library ranked 4th in the state for circulation for towns with a population under 2,000. In Fiscal Year 2016, library users borrowed 33,474 items, a ten percent increase over FY 15. Expanded use of the Digital Catalog provided by C/W MARS, 2,420 digital items borrowed, versus 1,520 digital items borrowed in FY 15 accounts for some of this increase in circulation. The high circulation rate is also effected by the high percentage of Shutesbury residents who are registered borrowers, 1,191 or 67%.
The physical collection remains relevant. The library director carefully selects materials to appeal to local users. Due to high demand, the library maintains an excellent DVD collection. The demand for DVDs has increased due to lack of internet access and cable television and the disappearance of video stores. In FY 16 the library patrons borrowed 13,215 DVDs compared to 8,996 in FY11. This increase in demand has been accommodated with an increase in the number and variety of DVDs in the collection, 2,702 currently compared to 2,252 in FY11.
In addition to books, audiobooks, magazines, DVDs, and music CD’s, the Library is proud to make some special items available to Spear Library patrons. The most unique program is a kayak loan program. In 2014 the Library was awarded a grant from Redbox, administered by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), to create a community destination in a previously underused outdoor public space. The Library had partnered with an outdoor adventure company to provide kayaking clinics on Lake Wyola and participants asked, “Why can’t we have kayaks available at the Lake all the time?” A parcel of land managed by the Shutesbury Conservation Commission, formerly known as the Old Town Beach was the perfect place to revitalize as an outdoor destination where neighbors could meet in a casual manner. The Kayak Loan Program was the beginning of this effort. The Library Director worked with the Old Town Beach Improvement Committee which applied for Community Preservation Funding to install a Gazebo and gardens in honor of a long-time resident who was passionate about water quality, libraries and kayaking. This unique project has been much appreciated by the community and is a source of pride for the library director and Trustees.
Other unusual items available for local users to borrow include chemistry kits and a telescope.
The Library offers an extensive volume of programs which includes: weekly story time, two monthly book clubs, monthly Lego Clubs, Ukulele Jams, Movie Nights, art and craft programs for adults and children, science cafes, and weekly gentle yoga. The library’s programming is varied, rich and greatly appreciated by patrons.
The Library strives to be user friendly. The staff is welcoming and friendly, with an emphasis on personal service. The library loan policies are liberal and non-punitive. The library strives to provide convenient hours. It is open seven days a week, a total of 28 hours, with an emphasis on afternoon and evening hours to accommodate students and commuters.
The Library is governed by a six-member Board of Trustees and operated by a full-time director. A Library Assistant works 12 hours a week and a weekend circulation clerk covers the two weekend shifts.
The Library is supported by many volunteers. Three volunteers help with processing inter-library loan and shelving on a regular basis. Other volunteers help as needed with projects, such as, a local carpenter does simple maintenance, several teenagers help with children’s programs, several patrons help market library programs and services using social media, two patrons help organize and run library sponsored book clubs and occasionally townspeople will offer their skills and expertise for a program. For instance, a local chef offered a hands-on cooking workshop and a local geologist led a discussion at a program about climate change.
The Library is fortunate to be supported by an active Friends of the Library group. In addition to financial support, the Friends create many opportunities for community gatherings including movie nights, ice cream socials, and community dinners. These events are well attended, sometimes with 100 people or more. The Library Director, Trustees and Friends are proud to offer opportunities for neighbors to meet neighbors at these events.
The current Library collection includes 8,058 books; 952 audio books; 2,707 DVDs, and 33 magazine subscriptions for children and adults. Patrons have access to 185,000 digital e-books and audiobooks through C/W MARS’ Overdrive Account and the Commonwealth Ebook Collections. Passes to local museums and Massachusetts State Parks are popular with patrons. The Library partners with the Mount Holyoke Chemistry Department to provide a collection of chemistry kits for elementary aged children. Thanks to an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant and a partnership with Aldrich Astronomical Society, a telescope has been added to the collection.
The Library has two public access computers with high-speed 24/7 wireless Internet access—something that is not available to many Shutesbury residents who rely largely on dial-up Internet connections. It has proven to be a popular service, with patrons sitting outside the building when we are closed using their laptop computers at the picnic table or in their cars in the parking lot.
The Director, staff, and volunteers work hard to promote the services and programs that the library offers. The library maintains a website and a Facebook page and an active presence on Nextdoor Shutesbury, a new community listserv with more than 600 subscribers. The library promotes programs and services through posts in Town and Shutesbury Elementary School Newsletters. Flyers are posted in public places around town. A marquee on the library lawn promotes our latest events. Our collection is marketed through a subscription to BookPage, a free monthly magazine about books and Wowbrary, a weekly online newsletter delivered to subscriber mailboxes.
New Library Proposal
The M.N. Spear Memorial Library was built in 1902. In 2008, a handicapped accessible entrance was created and a small room with a composting toilet was added. Other than these enhancements, the building is much the same as it was in 1902, 114 years ago.
In July 2011, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) awarded the town of Shutesbury a provisional grant for $2,093,084 for the construction of a 5,800-square foot library. The grant would have paid 60% of the costs for a new Shutesbury Library. The Town was required to “match” the grant with local funding for the remaining 40%, or $1.4 million dollars by January 30, 2012.
At a Special Town Meeting on October 25, 2011, an article to appropriate the funds needed for the local match, contingent on the approval of a debt-exclusion override, passed with the required two-thirds majority. On November 8, 2011, the override was defeated by 42 votes. A subsequent revote on January 10, 2012, resulted in a tie vote, 522 yes, to 522 no. The Trustees asked the MBLC for an extension of the deadline to provide time to sort out the election results and continue fundraising. After a complex legal process involving the Board of Registrars and the Franklin County Superior Court, the override election failed.
Efforts to secure the local match through a debt-excluded override failed and volunteers were unable to raise the amount needed to confirm the local match by the June 30, 2012 deadline. As a result, the Trustees declined the grant.
M. N. Spear Memorial Library strives to provide Shutesbury residents of all
ages with materials and programs to meet their education, entertainment and
information needs in an environment that fosters community. We aim to be a
place where past and future are joined, not only in our collection of local
historical information and current technological resources, but also by
bringing together community members young and old to share and learn from one
another. We endeavor to help all our patrons make the most of the current
technologies that can provide vital information services, as well as
entertainment and cultural enrichment.
The library will actively seek to identify emerging trends and needs of the community and changing demographics and work to meet them within the confines of the space and budget.
1. Continue regular community surveys and focus groups
2. Continue networking with other town entities, such as families with young children, Shutesbury Elementary School, and the Council on Aging, to guide programming and collections
3. Continue assertive outreach strategies through multiple channels such as social media, the website, town listservs and newsletters
The library will maintain policies and procedures to continue to provide a well-organized and consistently operated library.
1. Ongoing review of fiscal and governance policies
2. Ongoing review of library service trends locally and nationally
The Library continues to be a friendly and welcoming community resource.
1. Continue to develop non-punitive policies
2. Continue to provide quality individual services to patrons
3. Continue to develop community programs creating opportunities for townspeople to gather around common interests
Library Trustees, Friends and Staff will continue to advocate for a new library.
1. Continue private fundraising
2. Continue to seek town meeting support for a new public library
3. Continue to inform the community about current services offered by the library
1. Manage Institute of Museum and Library Services Pilot Project: A Guide for State Library Agencies – Enabling public libraries to become STEM community learning centers. (Goal 1)
a. Coordinate collaboration among Shutesbury, Leverett, Erving, Wendell and New Salem Libraries in project.
b. Collection development for STEM Topics.
c. Provide STEM programming according to the STEM development plan.
d. Ongoing reporting to Maine State Library System.
e. Evaluate patron and community response.
2. Promote the Library to maintain its visibility and presence in the community and encourage community engagement. (Goal 3)
a. Continue to create promotional and how to materials about library programs and services and distribute them through appropriate town resources.
b. Continue use of relevant online resources to promote the library. Add new online resources as appropriate.
c. Participate in other community events when appropriate.
d. Partner with other local groups and organizations to promote services and create programming.
3. Advocate for a sustainable operating budget which includes sound fiscal planning. (Goals 2 and 4)
a. Continue to review expenses, revenue sources and certification requirements.
b. Continue to advocate for Capital Planning allocations to the new library building fund.
c. Continue to monitor State funding sources for Statewide services that support public libraries and to advocate for adequate support for libraries.
The Trustees and the Library Director actively work to understand the attitudes townspeople have about the library, the needs of the community and how best to address current and emerging needs within the confines of space and budget.
The library recently conducted two town-wide surveys, one in the spring of 2014 and the second in the spring of 2016. In addition, the library hosted a community forum about library services in May of 2016. Currently the library director and two Trustees of the Library are members of a committee charged with conducting a town-wide visioning in preparation for updating the town’s Master Plan.
Summary of survey responses – spring 2014
240 people completed the survey. 96% were Shutesbury Residents.
40% of respondents use the library weekly or more, 23 % monthly, and 35% never use the library or use it only rarely. When asked why they use the library, respondents indicated a strong use of the collection: 74% use the library to borrow books, 54% to borrow DVDs, and 31% to pick-up holds. Respondents were familiar with our online catalog through C/W MARS with more than 70% indicating they search the online catalog, place holds, and renew items online. When asked about a possible schedule change to accommodate requests for Friday hours, 63 expressed a preference for Friday hours and 36 expressed a preference for Monday hours.
Responses to questions about the collection were positive: 129 respondents indicated that the Adult book collection was good or excellent compared to 49 who indicated it needs improvement or is only fair. Similarly, 131 respondents indicated music and audiobooks collections are good or excellent, while only 41 indicated this collection is fair or needs improvement. 103 respondents indicated that the Young Adult book collection is good or excellent, and 143 reported that the Children’s book collection is good or excellent. 82 reported that the Digital Catalog is good or excellent. Almost all respondents rated library programs as good or excellent.
When asked about the building and facilities, respondents indicated that the building and grounds are clean and well cared for, but that the ease of use for people with disabilities, the availability of work space, seating, and computers all need improvement. Respondents were given the opportunity to comment on several questions with the comments ranging from quite positive to quite negative. Ongoing discord about the votes on the debt-exclusion override for the local match for the provisional construction grant (FY2012) from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners was expressed, as well as hopefulness for a future effort to create a new library.
Summary of survey responses – spring 2016
233 people completed the survey. 98% were Shutesbury Residents.
33% of respondents use the library weekly or more, 20 % monthly, and 37% reported using the library rarely or never. When asked why they use the library, respondents indicated a strong use of the collection: 73% use the library to borrow books, 55% to borrow DVDs, and 43% to pick-up holds. In the 2014 survey, 31% responded that they use the library to pick up holds, so this is a notable increase. We also note an increase of awareness and use of our online catalog through C/W MARS with more than 84% indicating they search the online catalog, and 79% placing holds compared to 70 % in the 2014 survey.
Responses to questions about the collection were positive: 64% of respondents indicated that the Adult book, audiobook and music collections were good or excellent compared to only 12% who indicated they need improvement. 44% reported that the young adult book collection is good or excellent and 51 % reported that the Children’s book collection is good or excellent. 57 to 61% reported that programs for adults and children were good or excellent.
When asked about the building and facilities, responses were similar to those in 2014. The building and grounds are clean and well cared for, but that the ease of use for people with disabilities, the availability of work space, seating, and computers all need improvement. Respondents were given the opportunity to comment on several questions with comments generally quite positive. Less discord about the votes on the debt-exclusion override for the local match for the provisional construction grant (FY2012) from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners was expressed, as well as much hopefulness for a future effort to create a new library.
The Library is one of six pilot libraries in an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant called Empowering Public Libraries to be Science Literacy Centers. Some science related questions were asked to gauge community interest in science topics. 56 to 75% of respondents expressed that science related programs, activities and materials are important or very important. Respondents expressed an interest in many different science topics, with food, nutrition, exercise, gardens, forests, and sustainability receiving the most attention.
Summary from the focus group – spring 2016
Participants were asked to comment on the libraries strengths, challenges, and what’s next.
Strengths included the central location, staff-resourcefulness, attention to young patrons, C/W MARS and the Commonwealth Catalog, varied and abundant programming, collaboration with local elementary school, the kayak loan program, museum passes, volunteer opportunities, flexible and transparent Trustees, high circulation rates, extensive DVD collection, liberal loan policies, public service hours – open every day, how the library director continues to devise ingenious ways to do more with less, the growing number of people who are involved in the library as users, volunteers and supporters and the cozy and welcoming atmosphere.
Challenges mentioned included complaints about lack of space, especially in relation to the non-fiction collection and young adult collection which are both in high demand but compete for adequate space, the lack of browsing space or space to just hang-out, and the lack of water in the building. Other concerns were a plateau of population, concerns about town finances, the lack of reliable high-speed internet access in Shutesbury, and how to build consensus around the need for expanded services and space.
Summary of library related feedback from Community Visioning Process organized by the Master Plan Working Group.
High taxes and town expenses, the need for high speed internet access, and a desire to have a new or expanded library have been dominant themes in the visioning workshops. This process is ongoing but the lack of high quality civic space, community meeting space, public gathering spaces, and a new library are frequently mentioned in the workshop and survey summaries. Participants also mentioned that they value the cultural activities provided by the library and the library kayak loan program.
This plan is submitted with the unanimous approval of the Board of Trustees of the M. N. Spear Memorial Library, December 13, 2016.
Kate Cell and Molly Moss, Co-Chair Persons