Editor's Note: This article has been corrected from a previous version.
If you've been to Summit Library Director Glenn Devitt's office in the past few months you'd notice the boxes. Stacks here and there. The look of someone ready to move out. And so it is.
Two years ago he fought against a bill to eliminate library statutory funding, the bill went nowhere.
The Summit library cut Sunday hours in April and its ability to purchase new materials has been affected.
Devitt says "libraries across the nation are under attack," but he hopes Summit will flourish.
Below is a letter the Summit Free Public Library published from its departing leader.
On November 9, 2012, I will be retiring as Director of the Summit Free Public Library. Twenty-five years ago, when I was hired as the new Head Cataloguer, the library was a very different place.
- Videocassettes were relatively new technology, and had only been in the collection for a few years. Now we have several thousand DVDs and a growing collection of Blu-Rays.
- Musical recordings were on cassette tapes-and we still had bins full of vinyl LPs. The tapes and LPs have long since been replaced by compact discs and music DVDs.
- In 1990, the same year that I was appointed Director, the old card catalogs were replaced by an automated catalog and circulation system.
- 1995: “Literature on the Lawn” kicked off the Capital Campaign to renovate and expand the 30-year-old library building. Over the next two years, the Library Board and community volunteers fundraised $1.8 million.
- 1996: the library began to offer free Internet access to the public on four PCs. Now we have 20 Internet terminals, and since 2005, free WiFi.
- 1997: construction began on the library building. The library continued to operate out of three temporary trailers.
- 1999: the newly renovated and expanded building reopened.
- 2000: Sunday hours were introduced. Unfortunately, budget constraints have – currently – forced us to close on Sundays.
- 2001: the 100 th anniversary of the Summit Free Public Library as a public institution. CATSS, the teen after-school program, began.
- 2005: downloadable audiobooks became available, and the following year, Playaways (self-contained MP3 players). The art gallery in the library was established in partnership with the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.
- 2007: 24 hour drive-up book drops were installed.
- 2010: the library set an all-time circulation re cord – over 338,000 items borrowed in one year!
And the changes have continued, and will surely continue after I leave. Something that has not changed over the years is the firm support of the Summit community for your public library.
The recent National Citizen Survey, a benchmark study of 500 communities, showed that 93% of Summit residents rated the library services as Good or Excellent, a score higher than any other city department in Summit. In these difficult times when public libraries across the nation are under attack, I hope that the Summit Free Public Library will continue not only to endure but to flourish.
Glenn Devitt, Director
Summit Free Public Library
Correction: A previous version of this story said two years ago Devitt fought against a decision to eliminate library statutory funding, the result has led not only to a cut in hours and library materials, but also childrens' programming.
The state bill to cut statutory funding never went anywhere and changes in library funding and programming arent' related to that 2010 bill.
Also, this article previously said that the library director is leaving "in the wake of budget cuts this year that resulted in the loss of Sunday hours and ample cash to purchase new materials." The library budget was not cut. A formula based on tax ratables affected the amount of money given to the library, which led to a cut in Sunday hours and other budget concerns.