Library proposal draws debate in Buckfield

·3 min read

Sep. 7—BUCKFIELD — For more than an hour Tuesday, the Select Board and a few residents discussed policies concerning the Zadoc Long Free Library, how they dispose of books and what happens to money raised to support the facility.

The discussion was sparked by a proposed policy dealing with collections management, which would define the library's ability to accept donations and accessions, and to dispose of books and other materials.

Books and other media that are being withdrawn from the library's collection are given by staff to the volunteer group Friends of the Zadoc Long Free Library that includes about three dozen residents from Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner who help the library in various ways.

Friends is a nonprofit group, and its members receive no compensation, a member of its board told the Select Board.

The new policy dictates that for any books sold by the volunteer group, the money would be split 25% to the town and 75% to the group.

That did not sit well with several residents and Select Board members, who wanted to know why 100% of the sales would not be deposited in the town treasury, especially if the books were bought with taxpayer money.

The disposal of books is done for many reasons, library Director Kathryn Hladik said. Books received as gifts may be duplicates of what is already in the collection, the book may be outdated, or they could be in poor condition. Friends of Zadoc Long Free Library helps the library dispose of those books by selling, donating or by throwing them away.

Most used books have little monetary value, a member of the Friends group said. Most books sell for between 50 and 99 cents.

The small library has limited space for storage and displays, and it lacks climate controls, which further challenges the staff and volunteers. The library has boxes of books awaiting disposal, Hladik said.

Former Selectman Martha Catevenis brought up her frustrations, dating back to 2015, on whether the acquisition of the library and its trust fund was handled legally. She urged the board to finally seek a legal opinion on the transfer.

Chairman Michael Iveson thought that was a good idea.

Iveson directed Selectman Sandra Fickett to compile a list of questions raised by residents and to work with interim Town Manager Cameron Hinkley on seeking legal guidance. Fickett had tried to allay concerns brought by residents that she and others would likely not approve the 75/25 split.

In other business, the board set the application and license fees for the recently passed adult use and medical marijuana ordinance. Annual licensing fees are $1,500 for an adult-use retail store and $1,200 for a medical marijuana storefront. Cultivation facility fees would range from $750 to $10,000, depending on square footage. There is a one-time $250 fee for filing an application.

The board appointed Chip Richardson, chief of the Rescue Department, as health officer. The position has been vacant since Mitch Berkowitz simultaneously held the position while serving as interim town manager in 2020.

R.C. Garage and Auto Salvage of Town Line Road had its license renewed to maintain and operate an automobile graveyard on the property.