Niagara Gazette — City residents looking to stay cool won't be able to go to the LaSalle Branch Library.
The air conditioner at the building has been broken since Friday but the Department of Public Works is working on fixing the issue Michelle Petrazzoulo, director of the city's library system, said. The branch will remain open.
The issue of the broken air conditioner sparked a discussion at Wednesday morning's meeting of the library system's board of trustees. Members wanted to know what repairs the library system is responsible for and what repairs the city, who owns both of the library buildings, is responsible for.
As it works now there is no written agreement between the two entities but an understanding that the city is to pay for major repairs, Petrazzoulo said.
"The problem is that nothing is in writing," she said.
But, she added, the city has always been very good about repairs and has never billed the library.
"At least since I've been director they've been very good with the needs we've had," Petrazzoulo said. "Of course with the casino funds shortage, that's where the problem is."
Dave Kinney, director of the Department of Public Works, said that he was unable to get a report on the status of the air conditioner by the time that the Gazette went to press.
"Normally we take care of repairs at the library, unless it's an exorbitant expense," he said.
Kinney said that if the repairs to the air conditioner are high that he will have to go to Mayor Paul Dyster and the city council to ask where the funds should come from.
"Money is very,very tight," Kinney said. "I don't know if there would have ever be an issue if we had casino money."
Carmen Granto, a library trustee, said that the city and the library system need to work out a written agreement to avoid confusion.
"Maybe the process is that we have a reserved maintenance account," he said.
Granto said he understands that the library system can't expect to use the buildings for nothing.
"We don't own the buildings," Granto said. "But I can understand us paying regular maintenance because we do use them."
Also at the meeting:
Archival consultants William Siener and Jennifer Potter gave the board of trustees an update on the wealth of historical records and artifacts in the local history holdings stored in the Earl W. Brydges building. The pair has been sorting through the collection for the last year and told the board of several interesting items that they have come across lately, including a collection of documents from the Niagara Falls Urban Renewal Agency from the 1970's and 1980's.
Granto questioned whether it was worth keeping the urban renewal paperwork was necessary, being that there may be duplicates stored in the city archives directly across the room from the historic holdings on the third floor.
"We're not back up historians for the city records," Granto said. "That's what bothers me."
Granto said that most of those documents can be obtained from the city through a Freedom of Information Law request and the allowing researchers access to the documents without city approval may be outside the normal procedures.
"We're not a FOIL organization," Granto said. "We don't want to go around the city's processes."
But Siener said that there are advantages to having the documents in the library's research collection.
"The records are useful, they're organized, they tell a story that's important about the history of Niagara Falls in a period of change," Siener said. "They're accessible to the public if they are here."
Seiner said that, if duplicate records exist, the need to submit a request to the city to see them may prevent researchers who might have traveled from out of town from seeing them.
"There are no finding aides for any of that and unless you know exactly what it is that you want to put your hands on, you won't get it," Siener said.
Granto said that a possible solution would be for the city and the library to share an archivist to work on both the city records and the local history collection.
"We should hire an archivist and have him or her work, have the city pay us for their services and keep track of both," Granto said. "It's in our building anyways."