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Library News - Mary Jacobs Memorial Library Foundation press release

posted Apr 9, 2020, 6:55 PM by web master   [ updated Apr 10, 2020, 6:18 PM ]
The MJLMF published the following press release on April 6, 2020.  Please click here to view the full document.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: Mary Jacobs Memorial Library Foundation
 Phone: 609 924 7073 x 107
 Email: foundation@maryjacobslibrary.org 

Statement from the Trustees of the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library Foundation 

Rocky Hill, NJ: April 6, 2020 - The Board of Trustees at the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library Foundation hopes that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe during these trying times. 

Continuing the practice of keeping supporters and friends updated on developments relating to the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library, the Trustees provide the following updates. 

For nearly 50 years, through the efforts of the Foundation, the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library has served the needs of the residents of the Borough of Rocky Hill and the Township of Montgomery. 

The Mary Jacobs Memorial Library is unique among all libraries in the Somerset County Library system in that it does not rely upon municipal real estate taxes to fund the cost of the library building. Instead, the MJMLF funded the initial construction of the building, and for most of its existence, the MJMLF has paid the costs of operating the building as well. 

In the early 2010s, it became financially unsustainable for MJMLF to be the sole source of funding for the operating costs of the building. Even with annual fundraising, for several years the Foundation had to dip into its endowment to cover the deficit. This also meant that required capital improvements needed to be funded through further reduction of the Foundation's endowment. 

Between 2014 and 2016, the MJMLF negotiated an agreement with the Somerset County Library Commission (SCLC) to have it begin to take over the operating costs of the building. Starting in 2016, MJMLF made contributions toward these expenses, and by 2020 the SCLC would fully take over all of the operating overhead of the building. Thereafter, the MJMLF could fund capital improvements needed through its fundraising efforts. 

The MJMLF believed that once the 2016 agreement had been negotiated and signed, the Foundation had secured the long term viability of the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library to serve the needs of the residents of Rocky Hill and Montgomery. 

Unfortunately, approximately 2 years later, the SCLC and the Township of Montgomery announced, without prior warning to the MJMLF, that Montgomery would build its own new library building and that library services would be provided therein by the SCLC. After many conversations and proposed negotiations attempted by the Foundation, the SCLC made clear that once Montgomery had its own library building, it would no longer provide money to operate the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library, even with a reduction in services. 

In the ensuing months, the Board conducted many meetings in the hopes that some community services could remain within the Library building. Many roadblocks occurred, and the decision was made to sell the building, as the Foundation could not sustainably support its operation and capital costs. 

Even when it became apparent that the Montgomery building would not be ready in a time frame that coincided with the closing of the MJML, the Somerset County Library Commission still did not offer to negotiate with the Foundation in order to retain the library in its current location. 

It has always been the Board's goal to keep some form of community library or meeting space within Rocky Hill. That goal has always been in mind as the Board looked for alternative ways to keep the library as is and as it looked for alternative locations nearby once selling the building seemed necessary. The community of Rocky Hill Borough, as well as Montgomery, needs a space where people can gather, where services can be accessed, where access to reference materials and internet can be found, where questions can be answered, where kids can do projects and connect with tutors, where groups can meet, where programs can be hosted, where community members can connect with community members. The Foundation feels this urgent need and wants to help meet it. 

Recently, the Board of the MJMLF initiated another round of negotiations with the Somerset County Library Commission to retain the library in the Borough for a period of time. The Foundation also wants the SCLC to maintain some, though perhaps reduced, library services in the current building after the library moves to Montgomery, and it wants the SCLC to continue the maintenance agreement and to better fulfill its end of the agreement by responding to needs more quickly or at all. In exchange for those things, some of which had already been promised, MJMLF has agreed to forego its initial request for more than nominal rent for the use of the building and will accept an amended extension of the 2016 agreement in which the SCLC pays for the costs of operating and maintaining the building for the next two and one-half years, with an extension of certain library services after that of 18 months or longer. 

Negotiations are ongoing and moving quickly, and both sides are eager to reach an agreement. 

As a result, the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library Foundation will begin, once again, to fundraise. If the library is to remain in its current location, the Foundation will need to be able to afford capital costs, supplemental items that the maintenance agreement does not cover or cover quickly enough, and for programs, like Summer Sounds, to continue. 

Once the novel coronavirus threat has been abated, people will need help and the community more than ever. We are thrilled at the prospect of the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library remaining open and active for the coming few years, at least.

Sincerely, 

Cary Dawson, President
Michelle Jacob, Vice President
Tom Ix Treasurer
Crissy Blanos, Secretary
Michael DeCicco, Trustee
Brenda Fallon, Trustee
Phil Kartsonis, Trustee
Wendy Rayner, Trustee
Mary Jacobs Memorial Library Foundation