The Hamden Public Library serves all town residents, supporters told the Legislative Council Tuesday, but to do so it needs to be adequately funded.
Members of the Library Board spoke at the council's public hearing on Mayor Scott Jackson's proposed 2012-13 budget, asking for restoration of the money the mayor cut from the board's request, including funding for a new Library Director.
Former Director Bob Gualtieri earned $75,000 a year, and the board has requested a $90,000 salary for his replacement, who has yet to be hired. Jackson's budget calls for a $77,000 salary.
"When you talk about a school, you know you don't have a great school without a great principal," said board member Irene Fiss. "We have a great opportunity here, but the library director has never received a salary that can compete with others in our area.
"The mayor offered a $2,000 raise," she said, "but that in no way puts us in the same league as town our own size."
"The Hamden Public Library is a vibrant system, providing all Hamden residents the opportunity for learning, entertainment, studying, meeting with friends -- it transforms at every stage of life," said board chairman Jan Glover.
The board's proposed $2,043,131 budget equals $36.50 per resident, Glover said, and the mayor's $1,944,054 proposal drops that to $35 per resident.
"For an additional $1.50, we can assure that the library will continue to provide these services," she said. "Our community needs its library to be the best it can be."
"We are all aware the economy is in trouble," said board member Evelyn Hatkin. "In times like this, fully funding the public library is necessary."
It's in difficult times that people turn to the library for books and movies, she said, and parents who might not be able to afford entertainment like movies for their children will bring them to the library's many programs.
"People use the computers to apply for jobs and for resumes," she said. "We are hoping with a new director to increase the level of services we provide and hope to make it a center for the community, and to do that we need to be fully funded.
"We are asking you to fund us at the Library Board's request," she said.