Library candidates discuss future, budget at meet and greet

Library candidates discuss future, budget at meet and greet
Beth Horn, Adrienne Saur and Matthew Straus discussed their aspirations as library trustee at a Meet the Candidates night on Thursday. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

The three candidates for library trustee in Port Washington shared their visions for the library and views on the current budget at the League of Women Voters of Port Washington and Manhasset’s Meet the Candidates night last Wednesday.

Matthew R. Straus, Beth Horn and Adrienne Saur are all seeking to serve a five-year term in former Trustee Robert Lee Aitken’s seat on the Port Washington Public Library’s Board of Trustees.

They each shared memories of bringing their children to the library or fond experiences they’ve had at the library themselves.

When asked about their vision of the library, Horn discussed how impressed she was with how well the library fulfilled its previous five-year plan. She said she would be interested in surveying the community to see what people would like to see for the library’s future.

Saur said she sees the library expanding its digital footprint while continuing to maintain its physical collection.

Straus said he would like to see the library continue its delivery of services for children, parents and seniors but ramp up its services for working-age people who use the library for business purposes.

He suggested the addition of more collaborative workspaces that would allow people to work together and not cause disruptions for other library visitors.

A resident asked if each candidate could touch upon the proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Straus said that the proposed budget was about 80 percent allocated towards staff, leaving about 20 percent toward discretionary income for improvements and programs.

He said he is happy with this divide because he believes the staff is what makes a library special and also creates a majority of the programs the library offers.

Horn said that it is not about looking at one year’s budget but looking at trends over time. She said the Port Washington library is lucky to have two local organizations fundraising for it, the Friends of the Library and the Port Washington Library Foundation.

Saur said she agreed with the other candidates’ statements on the budget and pointed to how the proposed budget was a decrease from the last year and the budget of two years ago.

She said the staff is the key to the library by guiding patrons to best utilize the library programs and resources.

When asked whether they would look into keeping the library open later on weekends, all three candidates agreed it could be something looked into for feasibility and whether it would be something the public would utilize.

The three candidates also spoke on how their career experiences would support their ability to perform as a trustee.

Saur as the founder of Kids Need Enrichment, an organization focused on bringing science and technology opportunities to students in Port Washington, said she would be able to facilitate the expansion of the use of technology at the library.

Horn, as the executive director of the Sands Point Conservancy, said her tasks in her professional role have her well-equipped for the position of library trustee.

She said as a trustee she is eager to learn from the community and other libraries how the board can make the library even better.

Straus pointed to his experience as a litigation attorney which has cultivated his risk management, fact-finding, budgeting and projection skills.

The election will take place on Tuesday in the Port Washington Public Library’s main lobby from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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