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Milford Library Makes Case for e-Books Purchase

Jean Tsang tells the Board of Finance that Milford is the only library around that doesn't lend e-books.

The Board of Finance resisted supporting the purchase of e-books by the Monday even after Library Director Jean Tsang said she negotiated a 20 percent reduction in the cost.

Tsang appeared at the Board of Finance’s department budget hearing to present the library’s budget and request money for e-books. The library was one of 15 department budgets presented during the evening.

None was voted on. The board will discuss the presentations on Thursday and has scheduled a vote on March 7, both meetings to start at 6:30 p.m. at the .

that doesn’t have the increasingly popular technology. When Milford residents visit other libraries, they discover they limit e-book borrowing only to their town residents, a provision required by the companies that provide the e-books.

She said then the residents come to their own library and demand to know why e-books aren’t available here, too.

They are especially popular because a library patron can load hundreds of full-length books on his or her Kindle, Nook or iPad, eliminating the need to lug around a stack of heavy books.

But the Finance Board appeared unmoved. Member Joseph J. Fitzpatrick Jr. said if a person could afford an e-book reader, he can afford to buy the e-books and doesn’t need to borrow them from the library.

Tsang said she was able to negotiate a cost reduction from $10,000 to $8,000 a year for four years, and she noted that one day e-books would completely replace print books in libraries.

"This is the next generation, where we’re going in the future," she said.

As for now, the board members were more concerned about the print book collection. Tsang presented graphs showing that Milford lags behind the state averages for books per capita, juvenile books per capita, and town spending per capita.

RONALD M GOLDWYN February 28, 2012 at 05:17 PM
For 22 years the voice of the Democrats were critics of the Republican administrations. Nothing that the Republicans did was any good they appear to have concluded. Now we have a Democrat in the Mayor's office who campaigned to cut spending and he is doing so at the expense of those residents who can ill afford those cuts. I cannot prevent his rash acts, but a a Republican represented as an elephant symbol, I surely will not forget his cuts to my standard of living in Milford. In less than 2 years he will say to the public please re-elect me, and I will be there to remind voters of the cuts he made to our way of life. Mayor Blake, find the money for ebooks!
Michael Brown February 28, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Glad to hear you care about the Library after 22 years of givin-a-crap. You do know that the Mayor is not in charge of the Finance Board.? Don't you? Mayor Blake was only able to replace one Richetelli appointee, so far. It's like fixing the Supreme Court. These things take time.
JE February 28, 2012 at 05:30 PM
The mayor most certainly did NOT cut technology from the East Shore project. if you want the low down on the real facts about technology in the middle school - what is and isn't there and why, go have a conversation with the superintendent. It will be an eye opener.
JE February 28, 2012 at 05:32 PM
At this point, the mayor has not proposed cutting anything in proposed budget. As a matter of fact, given he met with all department heads, I have to assume he agreed with what has been put forth by Ms. Tsang. Were you or anyone else at this meeting? All we have so far is a reporters take on the conversation. From my experience, that is typically far from what really transpired.
James Givens (Shaw) February 28, 2012 at 05:35 PM
The underfunding of our public library has been an ongoing problem. Hours were shortened just last year causing the library to close on certain days; while I spoke against the cuts, I don't recall such an outpouring of indignation over the closing as I read above about the request to the finance board for e-books. I believe Milford deserves a fully stocked--including e-books--library that is open to the public 7 days a week. It is because we are not a hill-billy town, but a vibrant city that so many people use our public library. Beyond the histrionics above, the City, to my mind, is being run well--with an eye to improvements (the recent $12 million bonding for East Shore) and an eye to the realities of the economy.
JE February 28, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I am all in favor of ebooks and I agree our library has been underfunded for years. But I also feel correct information is important. I believe the proposal is $8,000-$10,000 per year for 4 years so that amounts to $32,000-$40,000 in total. The article says as much, lol, assuming it is correct.
JE February 28, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I think Mr. Jagodzinski needs a referesher course on how our budget process works in Milford. Dept Heads meet with the Mayor then formulate their budgets for their depts. The mayor doesn't turn anything down. The Board of Finance gets first stab at it, then the aldermen. As I said, I must assume if the request made it into Ms. Tsang's budget, Mayor Blake DID support it.
Sue Sawyer February 28, 2012 at 06:12 PM
JE - thanks for the clarification, I interpreted the post as saying we would get 4 years of coverage for that price, not that it was that much each year for a 4 year contract. Either way, it's a drop in the bucket for a town the size of Milford.
Tom Jagodzinski February 28, 2012 at 06:44 PM
The budget that is submitted to the Board of Finance is the Mayor’s budget not the Department Heads’ budget. Only items approved by the Mayor are included in the proposed budget. If the library wants additional money for e-books then they must have requested it and had it turned down by the Mayor. The decision not to fund e-books in the proposed budget was Mayor Blake’s.
Tom Jagodzinski February 28, 2012 at 06:45 PM
The budget that is submitted to the Board of Finance is the Mayor’s budget not the Department Heads’ budget. Only items approved by the Mayor are included in the proposed budget. If the library wants additional money for e-books then they must have requested it and had it turned down by the Mayor. The decision not to fund e-books in the proposed budget was Mayor Blake’s.
Michael Brown February 28, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Instead of listening to Jagodzinski, go to page 35 of the actual budget as proposed by Mayor Blake. http://www.ci.milford.ct.us/Public_Documents/MilfordCT_Budget/Mayor2013.pdf Mayor Blake has agreed with the department request of $1,500 for Electronic Media (Account 4980 0177).
Michael Brown February 28, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Page 35 of the 2012 budget. Electronic Media (Account 4980 0177) o Department Requests: $1,500 o Mayor Recommends (to the Finance Board): $1,500 There is no line item for e-books. Maybe this is your confusion.
Tom Jagodzinski February 28, 2012 at 07:03 PM
The item in the budget is not what the library people were talking about.
Michael Brown February 28, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Oh. Maybe you are referring to the "Shadow Budget" approved by the "Shadow Board of Aldermen." I'm sorry to inform you that the Republicans lost the last election. Those extra-government entities have been dismantled.
JE February 28, 2012 at 07:39 PM
The Board of Finance considers the line items that are in the Mayors Proposed Budget, yes Tom J. As they meet with the dept heads they consider each line item and ask the dept heads to justify their requests. The Board of Finance then goes on to approve or reject those requests. That vote will take place next month. So, thank you, Tom, for confirming what I just said. If the Board of Finance is debating the e-book expense, then it IS in the Mayor's proposed budget and the Mayor, therefore DID support the expense.
CW February 28, 2012 at 08:54 PM
It is the way of he future, I have been using my phone for over a year, it came equiped with Kindle. I love it. Infact I just got the new Kindle Fire and am awaiting my wireless router so I can use it-which I look forward to. The finance committee needs to get their heads out of the sand and look ahead in order to keep up with the times.
N D February 29, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I was appalled to find that the Milford Public Library did not have electronic books for use by my 90 year old parents. Both parents have vision issues and have found a new outlet for their time in reading ebooks due to the option of large print on their ereaders.
Wendy Zimbardi February 29, 2012 at 02:51 AM
I agree, they are the wave of the future. I hope we can keep our library relevant.
arkay February 29, 2012 at 04:35 AM
I was just wondering why the library doesn't carry them when every other town seems to. I would visit more often if I could load them onto my Kindle.
MJ February 29, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Do they allow public comment at the Board of Finance meetings?
Michael Brown February 29, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Public comment is up to the Chairman. Sometimes they do allow it.
Harold Maddux February 29, 2012 at 12:48 PM
I just moved to Milford from a small rural town in upstate CT and they offered ebooks. I am really disappointed that we don't have them here. We need to get up to par with technology. If our Mayor wont support this what does he think of our education system? They certainly use book and new technology. This is scary...
John Pasnau February 29, 2012 at 08:41 PM
"Public comment is up to the Chairman. Sometimes they do allow it." A board that is not elected, not accountable to anyone, and sometimes they allow the public to comment, based on a whim. It is long past time to eliminate the Board of finance, and rework the system so the Aldermen, who are elected are the ones doing the review and the decision making. Enough is enough, and I have had it up to here with this unacceptable system. Scary is a board of unelected people of questionable qualifications making decisions for us that directly effect quality of life in our city.
Michael Brown February 29, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Conspiracy theories aside, the FOI law does not require a meeting to be open to public comment. The city charter, which has been in place for about 30 years, makes Finance an appointed board. Contact Brian Lema, the Chairman, and tell him you would like to speak. 203-783-1200, blema@bmdlaw.com.
CuriousOrange March 01, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Quite a few ebooks are free, by the way. What is the problem?
John Pasnau March 01, 2012 at 03:20 PM
I would not like to speak. I would like my elected officials to do this job. Not an appointed committee. The city charter needs revision. Eliminate the Finance Board. I is a failure of an idea. 30 years is long enough to know it doesn't serve us well.
Michael Brown March 01, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I'm not quite clear what you feel the Board of Finance has or hasn't done that you don't like. As it stands now, the BOF serves as a check on the Mayor and the BOA. For example, It requires a 2/3 vote by the BOA to reverse a cut made the by BOF to the education budget request. Same with bonding requests. I believe the charter may be opened again in the near future. I know there are people who would like to extend the term of members of the BOE from 2 to 4 years. The same has been talked about for the mayor's term.
JE March 01, 2012 at 06:02 PM
If I am reading Mr. Pasnau's comments correctly, he thinks the Board of Finance should be an elected body, not an appointed one, considering the power they have over budgetary items. I can't disagree with him. I understand the terms are staggered, but a mayor who is in office a long time can eventually fill the positions with people who might simply push through his budgets without real regard for the taxpayer. No check there.
Sue Sawyer March 01, 2012 at 07:46 PM
The Aldermen should make up the Finance Board since they are elected and represent the people. Then the give and take is between them and the Mayor. All done by elected officials accountable to the citizens, not political appointees. Or if it is to be political appointees then it should be mandated that there is equal representation from both parties.
Michael Brown March 01, 2012 at 09:56 PM
All that is required is a change to the city charter. Some municipalities have appointed fiance boards and others have elected finance boards. Some municipalities have an appointed BOE and others have an elected BOE. For example Milford's BOE is elected. New Haven's BOE is appointed by the mayor. The city charter must be changed to change this arrangement. And changes to the charter have been made through the years. I'm still not clear on what egregious thing the current BOF did. Mrs. Tsang told them about a growing need for eBooks during a budget hearing. There is no budget line for this as such, and it is not the job of the BOF to add that budget line. The fact that some boards members disparaged eBooks is par for any board. There used to be elected members of the Milford BOE who didn't like the entire public school system.

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