Short Takes from the Trustees of the Bedford Free Public Library – May 

May 16, 2023

Security Cameras

Security cameras and the policy governing them were a focal point of the May meeting of the Bedford Free Public Library Trustees.  Currently, there are no cameras in the Library, unlike our neighboring libraries. Director Richard Callaghan is in discussion with vendors to install cameras at the three entrances to the building. The Trustees’ main concerns were privacy issues, but Callaghan and Assistant Director Noreen O’Gara assured them that the cameras would be positioned in such a way that no patrons’ reading material would be on view. 

Another question raised was the length of time that camera footage would be retained and who would have access: Callaghan emphasized that the cameras would be controlled by the Library. O’Gara is gathering policy statements developed by other libraries to present to the Trustees at their June meeting, when they will vote on a policy. 

Social Media

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In recent meetings, Trustees Padma Choudry and Fahad Alden have brought up ideas for strengthening social media as a way of publicizing Library programs. Children’s programming is very successful – indeed, almost always oversubscribed, according to Callaghan, and programs for older adults are well established (think of the winter history series with Prof. Dan Breen ) but Choudry wondered about programming for the group “over 15 and under 55.” There are great programs listed, but sometimes it is difficult to find out about them.  

Trustee Alden is particularly interested in promoting programs featuring local authors. This led to a discussion of the “One Book, One Bedford” effort that was popular for many years, but in more recent times, has dwindled in interest for many reasons. Both Callaghan and O’Gara stressed the effort and staff time required to mount a successful program.  When “One Book, One Bedford” began, a staff member was dedicated to that program. It was funded by the Friends of the Library. Currently, the Bedford Library has worked collaboratively with other libraries to present “virtual” author programs and these have been well received.

Callaghan said that when he met with the Finance Committee prior to Town Meeting to discuss the Library budget, he was asked what would be on his “wish list” and the answer was a Programming Coordinator. Realistically, such a position would mean a big jump in personnel costs and is not likely to happen soon. Meantime, the Library staff members each share in helping with social media. Choudry suggested the Library look at what it is doing with social media and try to determine what is most effective. 

Strategic Plan

Every five years the Library reconsiders its Strategic Plan. The time is coming up now for a review of the plan, which might include focus groups and a survey of residents to see “what the town wants” in programming. It could also include ideas for making effective use of social media. As Callaghan said, “a Strategic Plan is a good exercise and an opportunity to review the goals of the Library.” 

Little Art Box

The Trustees voted to approve a Cultural District Committee initiative to install a “Little Art Box”
(similar to a Little Free Library) on the Jenks Trail that runs along the Library. Artworks will be displayed inside the box and the exhibits will change from time to time. 

Election to Corporation Board

Trustee Choudry was elected to serve on the Library Corporation Board along with Trustees Rachel Field and Fahad Alden. The Corporation administers funds bequeathed to the Library.

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