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Norwell stops lending
library items to Hull residents

Posted by Molly Connors  March 11, 2010 04:45 PM

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Starting today, Hull residents can no longer check out books at the Norwell library, after Norwell’s library trustees voted Wednesday night to end all circulation to Hull’s card holders.

Hull residents are still welcome to use all other services at the Norwell library, said Norwell Library Director Rebecca Freer.

The decision comes a month after the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners voted to strip the Hull library of its certification, which cost the library approximately $8,000 in state funding and allowed the other 27 libraries in the Old Colony Library Network to deny its services to residents of Hull, if they so chose.

Norwell joins the ranks of Hingham, Scituate, and Cohasset, which recently decided to deny borrowing privileges to Hull. So far, only the Thomas Crane Library in Quincy has said it will continue lending privileges to Hull residents.

Hull’s library was decertified in part because its library funding was slashed $275,000 in FY 2009 to $100,000 in 2010.

According to Freer, Hull’s residents need to pay their fair share.

“Norwell residents have paid for those [materials] with tax dollars, and we feel that unless Hull is going to support their town library, it wouldn’t be fair to libraries in the Old Colony Library Network to send the materials to Hull,” Freer said.

Freer thought it might have been helpful if the board had continued to allow for interlibrary lending, so that Hull’s library would see an uptick in library patronage. “I think that providing materials and sending them to Hull gives Hull residents a reason to go into the Hull library," Freer said.

Hull Library Director Daniel Johnson said he is optimistic that the town’s May Town Meeting will approve the $235,000 required for his library to be recertified in fiscal 2011, which begins July 1.

“We’re actually trying to think as positively as we can on this,” Johnson said in a phone interview.

In 2008, Hull directly lent 112 items to Norwell; Norwell lent 276 items to Hull. In the same year, Hull lent 268 items to Scituate, which in turn lent 653 items to Hull.

The disproportionate relationship between Hull and its neighbors’ libraries is most obvious with Hingham, which in 2008 directly lent 30,759 items to Hull and received 714 in return.

One town that has not voted to deny borrowing privileges to Hull residents is Quincy, whose library trustees decided to give Hull a chance to restore its library budget in 2011.

“My board feels like it’s not fair to punish the residents of the town when they have no control over the politics that affects the budgets,” said Ann McLaughlin, director of the Thomas Crane Library. McLaughlin also says her library has seen an increase in usage by Hull residents since other libraries have voted to deny privileges.

In Norwell, where the idea of closing the library and merging operations with Hanover was discussed this year, Freer is not without compassion for those in Hull.

“It’s terribly sad. It’s the worst time in libraries I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been working in libraries over 20 years now.”

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