Library Board Discusses Salary Increases & Lack Of Saturday Coverage

Two issues regarding personnel at the Roselle Park Veterans Memorial Library (RPVML) were discussed at the Library Board Of Trustees meeting of September 19th.

The first was a vote by the board to increase the salary of both full-time and part-time library employees by 2% to coincide with the increases approved for the clerical staff of the municipality. It has been the practice to increase both by the same percentage. The library board unaimously approved the increase understanding that it would be retroactive to January of this year.

Later in the meeting Library Director Audra Osorio brought up a potential opportunity to use Workforce 55+, a federal program targeted to help those age 55 and older obtain employment and generate new skills. The only issue with the program – which would pay those who end up working at the library, not the RPVML – is that they do not work nights nor weekends.

“We do have an issue where . . . we do not have enough bodies,” remarked Ms. Osorio, “We have gaps on certain weekends that I can’t fill but I can’t hire somebody so we need to start looking at that because it’s pretty serious.”

Councilman-At-Large Joseph DeIorio, the liaison for the board, asked, “Didn’t we have high school students?”

“We would have to hire them, though,” responded the library director, “I’m talking about somebody that can stand at the circulation desk and check books out.”

Library board president Dexter Delacruz entered the discussion, “When you make the statement that we don’t have enough people, I don’t understand that. Are you saying we have a budget shortfall to cover the hours that are open?”

“No, we have a person shortfall,” replied Ms. Osorio, “I have people [who] either don’t want to work on weekends or will not work on weekends or only work one and we have gaps . . . I need to sit with the finance committee and find out is there is a way that we can maybe hire two part-time people who will work on the weekends.”

“You made a statement that it was that the part-timers don’t want to work the Saturdays, so if they could they would?” asked the board president.

“No,” Mrs. Osorio answered, “They just don’t want to work weekends.”

Board member Jenny Lichtenwalner offered a scenario, “So Jane Doe is working 20 hours anyway but never on a Saturday.”

“Correct,” said Ms. Osorio, “And doesn’t want to.”

“So what does it say in the personnel manual about insubordination?”, asked Ms. Lichtenwalner.

Library board member Elizabeth Qersdyn added, “You may need to let somebody go and hire someone new who can work weekends.”

Councilman DeIorio interjected, “But then you would reduce the number of hours within your Monday through Friday [schedule].”

Mrs. Lichtenwalner said, “Well, you can see your scheduled hours. So [you] have 20 hours to work every week. [You’re] scheduled for five hours  on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. [If you] can’t work Saturday, then you’re working 15 hours this week and that’s it. That’s not what’s happening now.”

Ms. Osorio explained that currently no one is specifically scheduled to work Saturdays. It was proposed to have the library board’s finance committee look at the existing staffing schedule. The library director explained, “People have reduced their hours but those hours have not been claimed elsewhere.”

This discussion was closed with the library board president stating that the issue will need to be addressed because the library is looking to expand its hours, not lessen them.