Fiorentini on Public Library Budget Woes: ‘I Will Never Allow It to Lose Accreditation’

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On the heels of a heated City Council discussion over the financial status of Haverhill’s public library, Mayor James J. Fiorentini wants to make one thing clear: He’s willing to do whatever it takes so that residents won’t go without their longtime literary resource.

While some Library stakeholders and supporters—including City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett—expressed concern over the possibility of losing accreditation should the Library not fill a $195,000 funding gap, Fiorentini intends to make the 99 Main St. landmark a priority during upcoming budget season.

“I do appreciate everyone's concerns. I appreciate that all of you love the library as I do. When putting a budget together, you have to balance all these very real needs. More for one thing means less for something else. When putting the budget together, I will continue what I have done for 15 years: Keep this library open, accredited and the best library in this region,” Fiorentini said when communicating with residents in the Facebook comments section of a recent WHAV article about the Library budget.

The Library’s Board of Trustees—of which Fiorentini is Chairman--and the City of Haverhill partner jointly to oversee the Library and over the last 11 years, Barrett said the Trustees increased their budget 41 percent, while the city boosted their contribution 0.2 percent.

Haverhill has failed to meet requirements for certification 14 times in last 16 years but received waivers, Barrett said. Once a library is de-certified, the location must be fully funded for three years and cannot participate in the consortium, or shared collection of books and resources from other local libraries.

According to Fiorentini, while accreditation may remain an issue, services have improved under his watch.

“Despite having the largest municipal debt in the history of Massachusetts, and having to make drastic cutbacks in every area of the city, we have managed to improve library services, not cut them,” he said, referring to the implementation of weekend service hours and book delivery, among other successes.

Summed up Fiorentini: “I will never allow the library of this city to lose its accreditation and we are not in any immediate danger of losing accreditation.”

The Haverhill City Council is expected to hear from Haverhill Public Schools students and teachers at the next meeting in a show of support for the Library, Councilor Timothy J. Jordan said this week.

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