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The Framingham Library: What is a library?
I view a library as a place to hold written material that others in the community may borrow to enjoy or perform research. In the past, it was a repository of books that people checked out and back in. I specify written material because the ability to read and write is crucial in our community.

With the arrival of the internet and associated technologies, the greater part of the research function of the library has been supplanted and in an attempt to remain significant, unionized employees of the library have begun to morph the library into something resembling an entertainment center.

Now, the library rents out VHS tapes, DVDs and audio tapes, much of which is for entertainment purposes. In the old days, you had to read books, then came the Cliff notes and now, you can get an audio book of the Cliff notes or watch the video. No more exercising that brain through painful reading. Life is good! I'm surprised the library doesn't serve popcorn.

In our diverse community (read illegal aliens), the library has a nice collection of books and DVDS that the majority of us pay for in strange languages that we do not understand.

Our library is also becoming a holding area for teens after school.

On January 2, 2010, Framingham declared a snow emergency based on the weather forecast because at 11:00 AM there was only about 3 inches of snow on the ground in the downtown area.

The main library downtown was supposed to be open from 0900 to 1700 but it never bothered to open.

This raises a series of questions that need to be answered by town officials.

This library closing seems to abrogate the contract between the government and the governed.

The DPW had done their job well such that I had no problem getting to the library twice. Each time I drove 3.5 miles each way without any issues. I really wanted to get some work done.

As you can see from these pictures, the library was supposed to be opened.

All retail operations were open for business and even the U.S. Post Office was open. The only public sector unit that was closed (but supposed to be open) was the Framingham library.

No attempt was made to communicate with the public about closing the library. The library director could have posted something on the web site but he does not seem to understand the concept of web sites. He could have also posted a mail message on the frambors, but why would he want to be friendly to the community of taxpayers.

If the Framingham library staff of 40 were paid for the day off, I find it amusing that I am a retired software engineer who gets paid nothing to examine the town's bloated bureaucracy wanted to work but was unable to because the Framingham library staff of 40 and a well paid library director Mark Contois were not motivated to work.

What seems interesting here is that the library officials are telling us in no uncertain terms that they are non-essential personnel. This is very useful information to have, knowing that Framingham will face a significant Reduction In Force (RIF) come spring time as the town faces a $10-$20 million deficit mostly due to a bloated bureaucracy.

The Framingham library is becoming notoriously unreliable as a public institution. Now, I'll have to call before any snow storm.

Framingham public library: main library
49 Lexington Street
Framingham, MA 01702
508-532-5570

Library Director Ext. 4357 Mark Contois
Assistant Director Ext. 4358 Jeanne Kelley

http://www.framinghamlibrary.org/about.htm

http://www.framinghamlibrary.org/trustees.htm

Framingham library: McAuliffe branch library
10 Nicholas Road
Framingham, MA 01701
508-532-5636 Aren't you getting tired of that stupid statement by the town that says


                                                     65 Delmar Avenue
                                                     Framingham, MA 01701
                                                     508-877-5541
                                                     hjw2001@gmail.com

        Framingham Town Manager
        150 Concord Street
        Framingham, MA 01702
        Attn: Julian Suso
              town.manager@framinghamma.gov

        Dear sir,

        On January 2, 2009, Framingham declared a snow emergency and the
        Framingham library closed even though it's schedule indicated that it
        would be open.  I was easily able to move around in the 3-5 inches of
        snow that Framingham DPW was handling quite well.

        These events led me to ask the following questions.
        I was wondering if you could respond to each question in the following
        list.

        1. Which town officials have the authority to declare a snow emergency?
    
        2. What is the criteria to declare such a snow emergency?

        3. Is there some sort of written criteria or is it haphazard
           (some bureaucrat looks in the sky and decides that it's time for
           a snow emergency in order to minimize work)?

        4. How much snow has to be on the ground before a snow emergency is
           declared?

        5. How much snow has to be predicted to fall in the next 24 hours before
           a snow emergency is declared?
    
        6. Given that a snow emergency is declared, who in the town government
           does not have to work?  Who is in essence, non-essential personnel?

        7. Do those that do not have to work get paid during a snow emergency?

        8. What is the name of the official who decided to close the Framingham
           library on Janaury 2, 2010?

        9. What was the rationale used by this official for closing the
           Framingham library on Janaury 2, 2010?

        I am somewhat confused by the town's motto

        "Dedicated to Excellence in Public Service"

        and having the library close.  I was planning to spend a few hours
        researching the number of Framingham personnel in Framingham's retirement
        fund between 1970 and 1980.

                                                 An inquisitive taxpayer,



                                                 Harold J. Wolfe.
          

                                                     65 Delmar Avenue
                                                     Framingham, MA 01701
                                                     508-877-5541
                                                     hjw2001@gmail.com

        Framingham Public Library
        49 Lexington Street
        Framingham, MA 01702
        Attention: Library Director
                   Mark Contois
                   508-532-5570

        Dear sir,

        On January 2, 2009, Framingham declared a snow emergency and the
        Framingham library closed even though it's schedule indicated that it
        would be open.  I was easily able to move around in the 3-5 inches of
        snow that Framingham DPW was handling quite well.

        These events led me to ask the following questions.
        I was wondering if you could respond to each question in the following
        list.

        1. Which town officials have the authority to declare a snow emergency?
    
        2. What is the criteria to declare such a snow emergency?

        3. Is there some sort of written criteria or is it haphazard
           (some bureaucrat looks in the sky and decides that it's time for
           a snow emergency in order to minimize work)?

        4. How much snow has to be on the ground before a snow emergency is
           declared?

        5. How much snow has to be predicted to fall in the next 24 hours before
           a snow emergency is declared?
    
        6. Given that a snow emergency is declared, who in the town government
           does not have to work?  Who is in essence, non-essential personnel?

        7. Do those that do not have to work get paid during a snow emergency?

        8. What is the name of the official who decided to close the Framingham
           library on Janaury 2, 2010?

        9. What was the rationale used by this official for closing the
           Framingham library on Janaury 2, 2010?

        I am somewhat confused by the town's motto

        "Dedicated to Excellence in Public Service"

        and having the library close.  I was planning to spend a few hours
        researching the number of Framingham personnel in Framingham's retirement
        fund between 1970 and 1980.

                                                 An inquisitive taxpayer,



                                                 Harold J. Wolfe.
          
Response from the town manager (January 9, 2010)
(Click to enlarge)

According to our town manager, there is no minimum standard and no written guidelines on declaring a snow emergency. In this case, the library was closed on the instructions of the library director Mark Contois.

I talked to Mark Contois in his office on January 5, 2010 and he did tell me that the library employees were paid for the day off. He told me that he would send me some response, but he has not responded to date (January 19, 2009).

The library has 40 employees and expends $2.5 million per year. I will assume that 25% of employees are part time and did not get paid.

The library's hours are 9-9 Monday thru Friday, and 9-5 on Friday and Saturday (aproximately 20,400 hours per year).

This makes the hourly cost of library operation close to $123.

Given that January 2, 2010 was a Saturday, an 8 hour work day, the cost of closing the library was

8 (hours) *
$123 (per hour) *
0.8 (permanent employee share of salaries) =
$787.00

The taxpayers shell out $787.00 and get nothing in return, but the real harm is that many thousands of taxpayers did not have access to their (the people's) library, because of one man's decision.

The most repugnant line I got from Mark Contois was that he chose to close to the library for the protection of its patrons.

Don't you hate it when the government wants to protect you at your expense and their benefit!

Somehow, I think this should come out of Mark Contois's salary.

Send comments to: hjw2001@gmail.com