The Plympton Board of Selectmen met virtually on Monday, August 8. Plympton Public Library Director Mike Slawson attended the meeting to provide an overview of the work being done within his department.
Slawson, who has been in his position for just over a year, said that they have two major initiatives currently going on within the library department. The first is National Night Out which will be held in Plympton on Friday, August 12 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Explaining the intent of the event, Slawson said, “The gist of it is that it is a Police and Fire, mainly Police, appreciation night.” Slawson continued saying, “It gives the residents of Plympton a chance to meet and interact with Police personnel and Fire personnel in a different capacity than they normally would.” According to Slawson, a lot of hard work has gone into the evening over the last few months. Slawson said that he hoped that it would be an opportunity for community-building.
The second initiative is the reorganization of the library’s collection. Slawson explained, “This project has several facets; we are going through the collection literally book by book and deciding, do we want this book in the collection?” He called the project a “massive undertaking” and said that they have been examining how long it has been since books have been checked out of the library. He said that a “decent portion of the collection” has not been checked out in the last 5 or even 10 years. The library is in the process of weeding those titles out of the library’s collection.
Slawson said that they are also relabeling materials to make them easier for both library personnel and patrons to find. He said that all books will have tags that identify both where they are located as well as the last three letters of the author’s last name. “Finally, another facet of this collection reorganization is we are moving some of our collections around… just as an example we moved our young adult collection to a different section of the library to give young adults their own area,” Slawson said.
The library has also been hosting programs on the first and third Saturday of each month. Slawson credited Selectman John Traynor with the success of the programs saying, “John’s been great about finding local and relevant speakers.” Slawson also said the programs were an opportunity to “have some breakfast and catch up with some friends.”
There are other new elements at the library as well including kits curated by local Girl Scouts. Slawson said the bags, which can be found in the children’s room, are available for checkout and cover an array of topics like cooking and animation. Another new element is the seed library. “Considering the amount of gardeners we have in Plympton, this has been something that I think has been enjoyed by the residents in Plympton,” Slawson explained. Another new collection is the library of things which consists of anything “not books.” “Things like board games or puzzles… we have yard games if people are having a party, they can check out… we have STEM kits,” Slawson said of the collection. He said they are also looking to get together a collection of items that someone may only need a few times a year like a power washer. “We’re looking into expanding that some more as we go along,” he said.
Regarding the budget, Slawson said it is “looking really good.” The municipal appropriation required to stay certified is $163,893. Slawson said that their requested budget was just above that. He said that $62,000 of that goes toward materials and the rest goes to personnel.
A few upgrades have been made to the library including new carpet in the children’s room and improvements to the front entrance. Slawson said that they are looking at ways to make the ramp less slippery during the winter months including purchasing gallons of clear coat with grit in it. “Hopefully it will fix it and help me sleep at night because that is really worrisome to me having that ramp be really slippery in the winter,” he told the Selectmen.
Selectman Mark Russo said he hears nothing but good things from all different sources regarding Slawson. Russo also paid high compliments on the concept of the library of things and said he wonders if there was room to expand upon the concept even more. “I always tell people libraries change; libraries have been around for thousands of years because we adapt,” Slawson replied.
Town Administrator Liz Dennehy asked the Selectmen to approve the early voting hours for the primary town election in September which they voted unanimously to do. She also asked them to accept changes to the law regarding scheduling police details for election days. She said it would make it so the Police Chief was the appointing authority and can coordinate those details rather than having the Selectmen’s office do it. They, again, voted unanimously to accept the changes.
Dennehy also said that they were waiting for bids on the Engine 1 refurbishment project for the Fire Department. “Hopefully they are affordable to us because we only have a certain amount of funds allocated to this…we’re hopeful that this can get the project done for the amount we have appropriated,” Dennehy explained.
Dennehy said that the town is still waiting to hear back on a few different pending grant applications. She told the Selectmen, “I’m also happy to announce that the Soule Homestead project… has finally come to closure… the lease agreement has been recorded with the registry… that’s a win for the town.” She also told the Selectmen that she would be setting up a public hearing for their September 12 meeting for Eversource regarding the installation of some poles.
Chair of the Plympton School Committee Jon Wilhelmsen attended the meeting to provide an update on the Dennett solar rooftop project. Dennehy told the Selectmen, “Unfortunately, we are still not ready… I believe that the attorneys are still working out some of the details… we are going to do things we can to expediate it as soon as possible.” Dennehy and Wilhelmsen said they were hopeful that the Selectmen could vote on the terms of the lease during their next meeting.
Before moving on to their customary raves, the Selectmen also voted to approve the use of the Town Green on September 3 from 11-1 for a flower show. A food truck will also be present.
Traynor said his rave was for National Night Out. Russo said that his rave was for the “lovely meeting tonight” naming in particular the National Night Out and the expansion of the lending library. Selectmen Chair Christine Joy joked that they may need a bigger building. Joy said her rave was for “John Traynor.” “The first and third Saturday at the library, you made it happen and you’ve done a great job with it,” she told Traynor.