At the November 30th Library Board Of Trustees meeting, after hearing about issues with the two (2) donated bookhouses from interim library supervisor Kathleen ‘Kit’ Rubino, the board recommended that they be removed.
Since being installed earlier this year without any formal vote to approve them from council nor any notice of who donated them, the two bookhouses have been points of discussion. After concerns from Roselle Park resident William Hahn at several library board and municipal meetings regarding non-compliance with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards, they were moved from their original location on the side of the library on West Clay Avenue to next to the steps of the library. There have also been questions of who donated them. When it was discovered that the county donated them, there was no explanation as to their cost, on whose authority they were constructed, and why they were installed when they were not included in the original plans of the library’s renovations last year.
The issues experienced by library personnel since they were donated by Union County include vandalism, destruction of doors, the leaving of trash them, and the damage or loss of books. Mrs. Rubino stated that some patrons left borrowed books in the outdoor birdhouse-like structures thinking they were the book return. Those books disappeared. Patrons still kept returning books to the structures even after a notice was placed on them notifying that they were not book returns.
Mrs. Rubino recounted, “One time I came in, there were books ripped apart. They weren’t library books, they happened to be books that we put out there.”
Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey, who was the initiator of the idea stated, “Let’s see if the county will take them back and give them to somebody else.”
“I’m sorry,” continued the interim library supervisor, “but it’s not worth it at this point.”
Newly elected board president Dexter Delacruz added to the discussion by saying, “We’re losing money by having it out there . . . We buy a $30 book, someone returns it . . . it’s put in there and it gets damaged or lost . . . that’s $30 gone.”
Additionally, books that were donated and left in the bookhouses become soaked when it rained. Mrs. Rubino also stated that the books that were left are not ones that people were going to read and are either old computer books or obscure reads.
Board member Maxine Padulsky made a suggestion that the bookhouses be donated to Trinitas. Councilwoman Storey also suggested that perhaps they be moved to the New Jersey Transit train station in the borough, but she ultimately reiterated that the bookhouses need to be returned to the county.
President Delacruz asked if the decision was something the library board could formalize but Councilwoman Storey stated that the board could make a recommendation and she would bring it up with council for a formal vote.
As of yet, there has been no resolution to formally remove the bookhouses from the library.