PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh Public Library is open to all.
“It is the great equalizer,” said veteran librarian Colleen Pelletier, who hopes to replace Stanley Ransom as the library’s director.
Pelletier recently spoke to the public about the library and her desire to become its director, touching on accessibility, technology and the possibility of a special tax district to help provide resources and avoid over-burdening taxpayers in a difficult economic climate.
“The future of public libraries are tied to how society works,” Pelletier said. “If society changes, so do public libraries.”
Ransom, 83, retires at the end of this month after four years as the library’s director. He was retired from the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System when he took the position.
Plattsburgh Public Library hosts more than 2,500 visitors weekly. Community usage has increased as people turn to the library for information and resources as the economy struggles.
Ransom earned $56,650 in the position, which requires a master’s degree in library services, a public library professional certificate and at least five years of experience in administration.
Pelletier, a native of Troy, has worked at Plattsburgh Public Library for 22 years.
Through libraries, she said, information is more freely accessible to people in an organized and trustworthy way.
“We access and organize information and provide it to people,” she said. “We are accessible to all people, not just those who can afford technology. This library caters to everybody who walks through the door.”
But the price tag for providing information is climbing and budgets are under the axe. Plattsburgh Public Library needs money to function, and those funds usually come from taxpayers.
Plattsburgh Public Library faced an especially troubling situation earlier this year, with a hefty deficit and the looming possibility of cuts that were barely avoided when the city provided more money and employees made contract concessions.
“We are always looking for more money,” Pelletier said.
She suggested that within five years Plattsburgh Public Library become a special tax district. Special districts provide services to people living within them and often cross the lines of towns and villages. Critics complain that the “subgovernments” that are created provide direct access to the public’s pocketbooks.
Pelletier said a special tax district-funded library can provide more services, hire more staff and offer increased outreach, possibly visiting places such as nursing homes and senior housing.
“The money we get from the city will hit a ceiling, and we need to look for further funding,” Pelletier said. “A special tax district can expand the tax base and would include the city and town and a couple other towns. Any town with its own public library would not be part of the tax base.”