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North Adams Library Trustees Firm on Cariddi Fund Use
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
03:59AM / Thursday, September 12, 2019
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The library trustees are leery of using Cariddi's bequest in one fell swoop.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The library trustees are hesitant to use money left by state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi to address major maintenance needs.
 
Chairwoman Robin Martin told the trustees Wednesday that she recently met with Mayor Thomas Bernard who asked that the trustees consider using the money left by the late Cariddi to go toward some of the maintenance concerns in the original part of the library.
 
"It's up to us but I am not sure that it is a good idea," Martin said.
 
The state representative and former city councilor passed away in 2017 and left a considerable amount of money to the city. Cariddi left the library $175,000 from her estate plus a $7,500 gift to go toward establishing an astronomy program.
 
Martin said the mayor thought the funds could go toward plans or design work. Complete design work would better position the library for grant funding that could address the many maintenance issues in the 150-year-old Sanford Blackinton mansion.
 
Trustee Tara Jacobs said there are no real stipulations attached to the bulk of the money left in the estate. She said their only guidance is that it goes toward maintenance, operational, and programming needs in the library.
 
The trustees agreed that it would be OK for some of the money to go toward this work but did not think emptying the fund was appropriate. 
 
"I can see using a bit of it but I can't see using it all," Jacobs said. "I don't think that was the spirit of it ... it makes the money become invisible in terms of legacy."
 
Trustee Sara Farnsworth said said she would not be comfortable tapping more than a third of the fund and felt the money should not be used to address maintenance issues the city has deferred.
 
Jacobs said she was also not comfortable committing money without a solid cost of these projects. She was wary that the design work itself could blow through the money.
 
"These are very expensive needs and I don't see any of them being something this money could fix," she said. "Until we have a very clear plan mapped out of our capital needs strategy ... I am uncomfortable assigning funds."
 
The trustees agreed to inform the mayor that they would rather disperse the funds throughout the library instead of focusing them on one project. Also, they wanted to relay to the mayor that they were uncomfortable committing money without clear numbers.
 
In Library Director Sarah Sanfilippo's report, she said things have been slow over the final months of summer but did note that workers have been in the building installing new LED lighting throughout.
 
"It is already an amazing difference when you walk through places where they have installed the lights you can actually read what's on a book's spine," she said.
 
The lighting was funded through a Green Communities Grant the city secured. 
 
Sanfilippo said funding was a bit short so not every light will be replaced. However, outdoor lighting will be replaced.
 
She added the Friends of the Library will hold its book sale this weekend. The sale runs Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish Center. There will also be a bake sale and silent auction.
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