The library trustees met this morning at 8AM for a “work session.” I had not seen the meeting posted over the weekend so I did not go.

What did the trustees decide to do about the library article debacle, which surely was the topic of their meeting? I hope they will let us know soon. I will update this post with new information, if I get it.

If you know anything, please leave a comment.

Update from Mark Howard, in a comment below:

Max, I heard about the meeting but did not attend. According to an email I received from Christie Sarles…

The Trustees voted unanimously this morning to table the addition/renovation project for this Town Meeting.

Christie, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the librarian. Mark is the chairman of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and involved in various other ways in town, such as the conservation commission and the Tuftonboro Association.

Update from Paul Matlock, library trustee:

Draft minutes from this morning’s library trustees meeting.

CHAOS! Selectmen Fail to Hold Public Hearing; Library Warrant Article Null and Void

“We have some problems,” Chairman Gordon Hunt told his fellow library trustees this morning. “The selectmen did not hold a special public hearing for the warrant article.”

The library-addition warrant article is invalid and will not be legally binding if voted on at Town Meeting because the selectmen have failed to hold a public bond hearing as required by statute.

Continue readingCHAOS! Selectmen Fail to Hold Public Hearing; Library Warrant Article Null and Void”

Library Statistics Don’t Show Need for Library Addition

I believe every community needs a library. Tuftonboro has a good library, but it could be better. I don’t think it is keeping up as well as it could with what is happening in the world.

Peak book circulation at the library occurred in 2009, at 23,981, while book circulation for 2017 was at 18,880; DVD and CD circulation peaked at 18,929 in 2011 and was down to 11,403 in 2017.

Meanwhile, in spite of the declines, the total number of items in the library collection has gone up from 29,258 in 2009 to 32,661 in 2017. In the same time frame, database/Internet “circulation” went from 602 to 7,101, and that is reflected in the circulation statistics. If you set aside the Internet usage, the current circulation is down by more than 10,000 items since 2009. That is a huge difference! (These statistics are not my creation, they were compiled by the library.)

The last time we discussed building a new library, at Town Meeting in 2015, the library staff expressed concern that there was no space for a break-room for staff so they could have private time away from the public. A month or two later, it was reported that they did create space for a break area by reducing the collection by about 700 items. However, by the end of the year the collection had increased by almost 600 items. Why are we accumulating more books when book circulation is declining?

Where is the future need for these items going to come from? There is a regional and even statewide decline in young people. The school-district population has steadily declined for about 10 years. In 2005, there were 2,889 students in the district; in 2017, it was 2,326. In 2005, there were 16 tuitioned students attending our schools, and in 2017, we had 142. Tuftonboro School has gone from 191 students in 2005 to 117 in 2017—another huge difference.

Meeting-room usage at the library has been increasing. Statistics show that average attendance for meetings and programs has ranged from a low of 10 in 2016 to a high of nearly 17 in 2014; in 2017, an average of 12 people attended. The present meeting room seats 45 people with room for a couple of tables to be set up. (The room also has full rows of books covering 2 walls plus some rolling racks of books plus extra chairs.) I have heard that the Polar Express, which is held in December, has high attendance and more seating is needed. Do we really need to build a function room to seat 85 people for one or two or even three events? The Polar Express could be held at the school gymnasium or the school cafeteria or at one of at least five other available places in town (Melvin Church, Willing Workers Hall, Tuftonboro Corner Church, Town House, Todaro Center).

Technology is the future. I don’t know how anyone can fail to see that. For Internet usage, do we need more space, let alone double the present square footage? The library needs to reduce its collection and increase its technology offerings including training and service. That will attract young families to the library. Building a huge, costly addition is not the answer.

Facts About the Library

This is a letter that Skip Hurt wrote a few weeks ago and I reference it yesterday in my post, Of Books and Libraries.

I want to post some facts regarding the Tuftonboro Library. I believe that a clearly documented history can help resolve issues.

  1. Back in 2005 the town was presented with a proposal to build an 8,100 square-foot addition to the library at a total completed cost of $1.25 million. The library had $50,000 of their own money, so this proposal would have required a bond of $1.2 million, had it been brought to a vote. Instead, a capital reserve fund was approved for $100,000 that year.
  2. In 2006 an entire new building was proposed, with a total of 9,475 square feet. The cost to build was $2,050,827, and the requested bond was $1,990,827. It was voted on at Town Meeting, and lost.
  3. In 2009 the same 9,475 square foot building was presented, requesting a bond of $2,056,600. It was voted on at Town Meeting, and lost.
  4. In 2014 the same 9,475 square-foot building was again presented, but this time with a cost of $2,600,000 million. The requested bond was $2,075,000. It was voted on at Town Meeting, and lost.
  5. In 2015 an entirely new building was proposed with a total of 8,350 square feet and a cost of $2,390,000. The requested bond was $1,800,000. It was voted on at Town Meeting, and lost.
  6. This year at Town Meeting is a proposal to build an addition to the library. It would have a total completed 9,200 square feet at a cost of $1,920,000. The requested bond is $1,094,000.

Twelve years ago a very bad decision was made in abandoning the effort to add to the existing library. It has caused a lot of grief and cost the town at least $600,000. It could have been worse.

My effort here is to demonstrate that indeed real progress has been made. I’m going to vote for this bond. Here are my reasons.

First, I can state that the cost could easily be $200,000 lower. Eliminating 1,000 square feet at $200 per square foot saves you $200,000. However, waiting another year loses you that amount in building cost and interest funding. Net – Net it is not a solution.

The requested bond is $700,000 lower then the 2015 bond and almost $1 million lower then what would be required to build the new 8,350 square-foot building (from 2015) today at $2,650,000.

In other words, the library trustees are asking for a $1 million bond for more square feet instead of a $2 million bond for a smaller building.

The cost to the owner of a home valued at $300,000 will be $45.00 per year for seven years. (Approximately.) Also the unencumbered funds the town now has are substantial enough to reduce that amount further.

In my estimation the percentage of the voters at Town Meeting who will support this project has not gone below 60% (for bonds, a 2/3 majority is required, or 66%). I believe a serious effort has been made by the library trustees to seek compromise. I have also not heard any other constructive suggestions to resolve the issue. I’ve heard it suggested that building new is a better value. I disagree in this case. I will also point to the Town offices. We could have built a new building, but instead we added on to an old home. The result is more to my liking, and keeping with the character of the town.

I want to extend my sincere thanks for all who have voted against the previous library warrant articles. It was a Herculean task. I did not believe the past efforts were representative of the town’s base character. I’m not trying to convince others to vote for this — I understand all the reasons why someone might vote against it. I’m simply making clear my reasoning for voting for it.

A final point: With a clear majority it would be easy for the powers that be to approve warrant articles for much more than $100,000 per year. The current bond request funded at 10 years would require around $100,000 per year to fund, give or take. If large warrant articles were to pass, the tax impact would be much greater on a per year basis. I am in fact surprised that the library did not do a better job of creating warrant articles to this effect. Had they done so on a regular basis, starting 12 years ago, the project would be fully funded by now.

Skip Hurt

Of Books and Libraries

My mother worked at the local library when I was little. I have a picture of myself, probably 5 years old, holding a book under my arm, standing in the Lisbon Falls library. My first job, at the age of 15, was at the same library (my mother no longer worked there by then), restocking books and putting on dust jackets. My father is a published author who helps people write their memoirs. My wife, who is a professional editor, and I own well over 3,000 books. My friend Kate Braestrup, a New York Times bestselling author, came to town in January for the Book & Author Lunch program, after I introduced her to our librarian.

I’m currently reading The Three Musketeers; Into Thin Air; The Last Lion, Volume III; and Roosevelt & Churchill, 1939–1941. I also recently picked up Uncle Tom’s Cabin and What God Hath Wrote, America 1815–1843. Last year I finished Ulysses S. Grant’s Memoirs, so this year perhaps I should try William T. Sherman’s Memoirs.

Shortly after moving to Tuftonboro, I joined the History Book Club that meets once a month at the library. We’ve read a lot of good books since then (and a couple of duds), with my favorites being The Black Count, American Sniper, and Bunker Hill. You should join; we meet the last Wednesday of the month. March’s book is The Immortal Irishman.

My book-loving bona fides sufficiently demonstrated, let me get to the point: We do not need a new library.

We have a library. It’s a nice library. I like it. I use it — less than some but more than others.

It could possibly use a few upgrades. Perhaps a new carpet, some paint, that type of thing. What it does not need is a $2 million expansion, which will inevitably have ongoing cost increases in the years to come — such as greater operating costs and additional employees.

While the Book & Author events I have been to were well attended (Kate’s event was sold out, at 40 people), the average number of people attending events at the library was just 12 last year, according to the library’s own statistics. For instance, we typically have 5 to 7 people in the book club.

If you go back a few weeks in the Grunter, you’ll find Skip Hurt’s letter, in which he lays out the history of the pro-library crowd’s failure to achieve their goal. We are on the sixth proposal in 12 years.

Why are we still arguing over this? Building a new library (or an expanded one) is a sincere desire for some, but it is not something that we actually need. Libraries are literally a thing of the past (Carnegie was building them a century and more ago). I didn’t get any of the books  mentioned above from the library. However, the History Book Club typically gets our selections through interlibrary loan so that we have enough copies to go around.

And that brings me to the space issue for books. It doesn’t matter how large our library building is — we will never have enough room for all the books. All libraries must manage their collection. If a book has not been checked out within a certain period of time, then we should get rid of it. If a patron later comes in asking for that book, then he or she can get it through interlibrary loan. Or they can buy it on Amazon or eBay and have it delivered to their house within two days for less than $10. People who read books don’t need big, show-stopping libraries these days.

I know many people who are going to vote for the $2 million library addition. I like and respect them, and I will continue to view them the same way even though we have different opinions about expanding our already-perfectly-nice library.

I hope you will attend Town Meeting on March 14 at 7:30 PM at Tuftonboro Central School: Your opinion about spending $2 million won’t affect the outcome unless you come and vote.

Note: I initially incorrectly stated that a new library has been voted down 6 times since 2006. In fact, we are currently considering the sixth library proposal in 12 years, and it has been voted down 4 times.

NY Times Best Seller Kate Braestrup at Tuftonboro Free Library Saturday

Maine author Kate Braestrup is coming to Tuftonboro on Saturday, January 20, at 11AM, for the first Book & Author Lunch of the year at Tuftonboro Free Library. Braestrup is a minister, chaplain to the Maine Warden Service, and author of numerous books including the best-selling memoir, Here If You Need Me.

Praise for Here If You Need Me:

Can be read as a superbly crafted memoir of love, loss, grief, hope and the complex subtleties of faith. Or it can be read as the journey of a strong-minded, warmhearted woman through tragedy to grace… [Braestrup is] remarkable, steady, peaceful and wise.”
Jane Ciabattari, Washington Post

Even the most jaded secularist would fall for the chaplain of the Maine Warden Service.”
Karen Schechner, Cleveland Plain-Dealer

Extraordinary. [Braestrup] writes with affecting gravity about the everyday horrors she encounters. This witty, middle-aged Maine minister has a calm, earthy authority all her own.”
Jennifer Reese, EW

Although laced with tragedy, the book is breezy and humorous – and uplifting.”
-Jerry Harkavy, Boston Globe

For (free) tickets, please stop by the library or call 603-569-4256.

Library Trustees: $1,920,000 Library Addition Warrant Article for Town Meeting 2018

The library trustees sent out the following press release today:



At their regular monthly meeting on November 8th, Tuftonboro Free Library Trustees Gordon Hunt, Paul Matlock, and Mary Ann Murray voted unanimously to put the proposed plan for an addition and renovations to the existing library on the 2018 Town Warrant.  The focus changed from a new building to an addition late this spring, when Tuftonboro resident, Raymond “Skip” Hurt, presented a model to Selectmen and Trustees that he believed would provide the necessary space at a substantially lower cost to taxpayers.

In response to this citizen initiative, the Trustees directed SMP Architecture to review Hurt’s plan for feasibility, provide additional options for expansion, refine and develop the approved plan to the Schematic Design phase, and work with Bauen Corporation, the project’s construction management firm, to provide a preliminary cost estimate.  SMP also provided a new topographical map overlay demonstrating that wetlands areas delineated by the original survey in 2006 were inexactly located, and so clearing the way for an addition.

The preliminary cost estimate for the 5,000 square foot addition plus all necessary renovations to the existing building is $1.92 million.  Considering that the projected cost for a new building is $2.65 million, the Trustees believe that their decision to support the proposed addition is in the best interest of the town.  There is currently a combined total of just under $700,000 in cash on hand in the established Library Capital Reserve Fund and the privately supported Library Building Fund, and just under $100,000 in additional private pledges, contingent upon approval of the project at Town Meeting on March 14th.  The TFL Capital Campaign Committee and the Friends of the Library will continue with fundraising, in an effort to reduce taxpayer costs even further.

Plans for the proposed addition can be viewed at the library, and on the library website,, where there is also an animated “fly-around” view of the exterior.

The fly around video is here:

Here is the interior floor plan (click to make larger):

And here is the site plan (click to make larger):


Selectmen’s Meeting, 8-28-17

0:00:00 Pledge
0:01:20 Chief Thompson (Fire & Rescue)
$1753 repair cost for mirror lake station repair (Struck by lightning) Chief says don’t file insurance claim
0:04:50 Roof was spongy as far as roofwise
0:10:40 FD employees were paid for directing traffic during 5K race.
0:22:10 Chip: I’m surprised. I thought this plan would be closer to Skip’s plan. Not saying I’m disappointed.
0:25:05 Gordon: Initial estimate was $1.9 million. We’re working with SMP & Bouen to reduce that to $1,882,000
0:28:05 current library funds: more than $700,000
0:31:25 Chip: Encourage you to get more bids for construction management
0:39:55 Helen Hartshorn: What about the wetlands?
0:40:35 Carla Lootens: No, seriously, what about the wetlands?
0:43:28 Chip: was there a number estimated for stand alone police facility?
Lloyd: I don’t remember
0:46:00 Chip: There should be no other warrant articles other than the library.
0:52:13 Phyllis Tesslier appointment as alternate library trustees
0:53:00 Appointments to PLANNING BOARD: Russell Stensma & Kate Nesbit: 1 year term; Susan Wingate: 3-year term; James Libby: alternate for 3-year term
1:00:00 Bridges / HEB
1:!2:10 Tax Collector: abatement for Camp Belknap
1:13:20 2020 Census