Trustees of the Bedford Free Public Library unanimously approved a draft fiscal year 2024 budget of $1,453,965 at their Dec. 13 meeting. Library Director Richard Callaghan said he was happy to learn of the Finance Committee’s sanction of a 3.5% percent increase to town department budgets, which means he can now add to the books and materials budget, bringing that item to a total of $216,000. Salaries comprise the largest share of the budget, at $1.133 million.
Staffing issues continue to be a challenge because of the persistent Covid and other respiratory viruses. Last week three staff members were out with Covid. The prevailing shortage of library personnel -a regional concern – means that sometimes the Library must close early. For the safety of both staff and the public, the Library can’t operate with fewer than a minimum of four employees in the building. Evening and weekend hours can be a problem to cover. Many of the part-time library staff also work at other libraries and are not available on short notice, which adds to scheduling headaches. The Library sends out the message on closures via social media and email blasts and there is a message on the phone when the building will be closing early.
Callaghan reported that the long-awaited upgrade to the HVAC system will take place from April to October 2023. This will allow construction to begin when the heat goes off in the building and to be completed by the time the heat goes back on again in the fall. The Town Facilities department is in charge of obtaining bids from vendors and scheduling the work.
New Program for Job Seekers
Bedford is partnering with more than 60 Massachusetts public libraries to offer the 50+ Job Seekers Networking Group program to support people fifty years and older looking for a new job, a new career direction, or a Second Act career. The group meets on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and on the second and fourth Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.
The first meeting takes place on January 4 and the sessions will continue through June.
A new topic will be covered at each meeting. Attendance at each session is not necessary –but is highly recommended. Job seekers can join at any time.
The job seekers workshop is facilitated by Deborah Hope, MBA, PCIC, an experienced executive career coach. She is a former Fortune 500 executive, investment banker, and entrepreneur. She transitioned to executive coaching over 12 years ago. Deborah has coached with Harvard Business School Executive Education programs and the Massachusetts Conference for Women.