Sunday, January 4, 2009

In the news: libraries are busy, regionalization to save costs

Libraries have also become hubs for public internet access, as they provide Web service and the computers needed to use it.

And the most attractive part about libraries in a rotten economy: They're cheap, if not outright free.

Celeste Bruno, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, said about 2 million more books and other materials were borrowed from libraries in the 2007-2008 fiscal year than in the previous year. About 54 million items were borrowed that year, she said, plus about 2.2 million people participated in library programs during that time.

"This is a big surge," said Bruno.

Circulation rates are up in local towns in the past few months: Milford is up 30 percent, Franklin by 21 percent, Medway by 16 percent and Millis by 18 percent, she said. But as the demand rises, already thin library budgets could get strained even more with the likelihood of more than $2 billion in state budget cuts.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

The two towns are talking about sharing some services, such as merging transfer stations each community operates in the area. Sudbury capped its dump years ago, and Wayland recently began that process for its own landfill.

But if the two towns worked together, O'Brien said there's a possibility of other projects, such as erecting a solar power panel farm on that wide-open space.

It could generate electricity for municipal buildings in both communities, plus the towns could tap the landfills for methane gas as another energy source, he said. Such a project could save on energy costs and set a standard for the future.

"There is a tremendous savings opportunity for the community. But if we do it right, it's a potential model site for the rest of the commonwealth," said O'Brien.

As cities and towns face ever-tightening local budgets, municipal officials are looking across town lines at the potential of sharing services and splitting the costs with neighboring communities.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

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