HomeHaddonfield NewsKain not convinced of Library move

Kain not convinced of Library move

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Haddonfield Sun

The newest president of the Board of Library Trustees shared his thoughts on the public library system and addressed the facility needs that have been present at the library for decades.

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While the facility issues certainly need to be addressed by the board, Gene Kain said he has not seen anything in his two years of service that suggest the library will be moved to a different location.

Kain — former mayor of Haddonfield from 1997 to 2001 — was elected as the president of the trustees this past January. While not a “library expert,” Kain said it’s obvious that the most successful municipalities in the state have excellent library systems established within their communities.

Haddonfield has a well used library system, he said, as evidenced by circulation numbers. In 2009 the public library’s circulation was almost 131,000, an increase of about 1,000 over the 2008 circulation. The door count also increased by about 2,000 people, he said, over the 2008 rate.

These numbers increased in 2009 despite the library being closed 11 more days than 2008, Library Director Susan Briant said. A debilitating flood denied access to the children’s department for six days over the summer.

It’s a busy library system, he said, which puts an even bigger priority on what Kain described as the “800 pound gorilla in the room.”

“It seems to me and many people in the community that our facilities just aren’t up to snuff,” Kain said. “They need to be improved in a responsible and reasonable way.”

The Haddonfield Public Library has had facility issues for years. The current structure’s children section is not handicapped accessible and floods during rainstorms, representatives said. The library also has a leaking roof and a 90-plus year structure that was described as “charming but ill-suited for twenty-first century library services,” by a focus group hired by the library administration in 2008.

Bringing the public, the commissioners, and the board of trustees together and on the same page is a goal for 2010, Kain said. He also expressed his doubts that a new location for the library would be possible.

“It’s all connected to the current state of the economy. It’s very rough right now, and people are having a hard time. I think it will be very difficult to move from this site,” Kain said. “I haven’t heard anything in two years that makes me think different.”

As for the suggestion of moving the library to 117 Kings Highway, Kain said all of the information is not readily available for the trustees to make a complete decision. From what he has heard from architects and engineers looking at the site, the building could support a library.

However, it’s unknown how much it would cost the borough to construct a new library within the building, Kain said.

Kain did not fully cast off the idea of moving to a new location. If a solution reveals itself that the community, the commissioners, and the board can agree on it would be ideal.

“If it works and we can afford it, we’ll look at it,” he said.

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