By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Things are getting back to normal at Taylor Library — for now.
But library staff members said it’s still stressful, thinking about what could have happened if the tiny East Derry library had closed its doors.
Town Administrator John Anderson had suggested zero funding the library as part of the 2014 fiscal year budget. That idea did not sit well with patrons, children and families who have used the 135-year-old library for story hours, adult programs and special activities.
After weeks of debate and an outpouring of public support, the Town Council approved the library’s $176,600 budget on April 30. The final town budget is set for a vote May 14.
Library director Linda Merrill said emotions continue to run high, making it difficult to relax until that final vote is taken.
“It’s been a stressful situation,” Merrill said. “We’re not taking anything for granted.”
During the last few weeks, staff members worried about what would happen to their jobs if the library lost its budget, she said. Summer program planning was put on hold.
“We had a rough draft of the summer program, but really couldn’t plan,” Merrill said.
The fate of the building was a concern if the library closed its doors. The Taylor family’s legacy specified it could only be used as a library. Merrill said it would cost the town money to maintain the building if it stood empty.
Support for the library continues to grow. Children are still coloring special library pages to show how much they love their library. About 50 of the colored sheets were presented to town councilors in past weeks. A petition drive resulted in more than 400 signatures of support.
People on the street, in stores, at church, all tell Merrill they love the library and want it to remain open. Letter and emails poured in from past patrons, those who have moved away, friends from Merrill’s hometown and college, all expressing their support.
New patrons have visited for the first time.
“A lot of people coming in say they didn’t know there was another library in town,” Merrill said. “It’s been awesome, the outpouring.”
Town councilors also paid Taylor visits while pondering their decisions on the budget. Merrill thanked them for their support.
Merrill said her youngest patrons were very excited to learn the library was remaining open. She was proud of all of those who appeared before the Town Council to voice their support and share stories.
“The kids went to meetings, they knew what was going on and they had a chance to express themselves, “ she said. “Parents kept them informed. They did an awesome job.”
Merrill said she knows any future expansion plans are most likely on hold. Town officials have suggested the library trustees and staff think of ways to help support the library’s budget with fundraising or private donations.
Library staff member Fran Mears said she won’t totally relax until that final budget vote.
“I think we have to wait until the 14th to see it in black and white,” she said.