The Fort Myers Beach Library Board held their monthly meeting in the library’s Community Room on Tuesday. Six members of the board were present with Rick Sebastian absent due to continuing health issues. The board welcomed news that the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club had made a $500 donation to the library, a part of proceeds from the Shrimp Festival.
Treasurer Miffie Greer provided a half way point snapshot of the budget, noting that the library had received 97% of projected revenue while spending about 35% of expenses. Director Dr. Leroy Hommerding told the board that the library orders more materials during the slower summer months, when staff has time to research and place orders. He noted that the library would be adding more Play Away’s as their use had risen significantly in the past year, while Play Away had expanded their licenses to make more selections available.
Board Chair Sallie Seabury asked if the SolarChill system had reached the 6-month mark, when the library would need to pay them or have the equipment removed. The SolarChill Thermodynamic System works with the library’s air-cooled chillers to increase the compressor’s capacity and reduce its workload. The library was offered a 6-month free trial of the system last summer that was expected to cost $20,578 while saving the library $7,779/year in power costs for a 2.5 year payback if they decide to keep the system. Hommerding answered that the 6-month period began in early February and he is pleased with its performance so far and the attention the company has given to adjusting it to be even more efficient.
The 3rd floor café will be operated by The Knotty Bean, a café located in the Sea Grape Plaza at 2801 Estero Blvd, almost next door to the library. It is expected to re-open in early summer with summer hours of 9am-noon.
Library usage is falling into a summer pattern, according to Hommerding, with 601 patrons on Monday, April 24th and 387 on Tuesday, April 25th. Wi-Fi usage remains high with over 1490 users plus another 1490 computer uses in March.
Donations to the library since February 28th totaled $1965.90 with $150 donated in memorial gifts and $500 from the FMB Lions.
An ongoing concern at the library is dealing with issues concerning the homeless, such as eating or littering in the library. Hommerding explained that his policy is to speak to any offender three times and if the problem behavior persists, they are trespassed from the library. Mark LaFave suggested contacting the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to inquire about the use of VOICE officers to assist in the library.
Hommerding said he’d like to help make the homeless aware of the God’s Table program at Chapel by the Sea. Greer explained that the program provides sack lunches to the homeless and noted that all participants of that program have background checks. Board members agreed that the library serves an important role for area homeless. Hommerding emphasized that he is not trying to get rid of the homeless, but wants to make sure they follow library rules.
Some damage was done to landscaping irrigation by construction crews working on Estero Blvd according to Hommerding. He is working with them to repair it and plans to test it to make sure it is working properly afterwards.
Hommerding noted that Angie Frantz, a library employee since 2001 and Circulation Supervisor, has left to move with her family to the west coast. Elizabeth Rhodes has been hired as the new Circulation Supervisor.
Wednesday evening hours at the library have been suspended starting this week. The Beach Library is open Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm and Saturday from 9am-1pm.
The next Library Board meeting is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, May 23 at 6:30pm in the Library’s 3rd floor Community Room.