By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
BEACON FALLS — The library department has requested more funding after an increase in public participation has caused library employees to work extra hours with no pay.
Beacon Falls Public Library employees typically work 30 hours per week, but lately they’ve been working beyond those hours due to a spike in library involvement and aren’t getting paid for the additional labor because there isn’t anything in the budget for them. Library workers are looking to move to 35 hours per week for the 2022-23 budget, First Selectman Gerard Smith said.
“I’ve never been a proponent of people working and not getting paid,” Smith said Monday at the Board of Selectmen meeting. “It’s just not fair.”
Selectmen unanimously approved the change in library hours and it will now be reviewed by the Board of Finance during the budget process. The proposal started with the town board because it’s a major policy and hourly change, Smith said.
If officials approve the change and resulting 2.5% pay increase, the library budget would rise to $193,384 from $165,758, Smith noted.
He said the change in hours mainly would affect three full-time library employees.
Library Director Elizabeth Setaro-Posick said there has been an increase since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with “Take and Make” activities for children, teens and adults that require more preparation time.
“Instead of doing work on our personal time, we would actually be doing it during work hours,” Setaro-Posick said if the hours get increased.
“Take and Make” typically involves a craft or activity bagged up with all the materials and directions needed to do at home, Setaro-Posick said.
“Since we started doing ‘Take and Make’ activities, we have a lot more participation,” she said.
Children and family programs have increased by 154%, and adult programs by 620% from the end of 2020 to the end of 2021, Setaro-Posick said.
“Take-home activities take a lot more preparation because you’re supplying everything and bagging it up individually,” she said, citing examples such as teen baking, coffee club, spice club kit with recipes to take home, literacy bags and wood sign crafts for adults.
The library also offered a take-home escape room for families during New Year’s Eve.
Smith said he values the service the library provides to residents.