Dover Public Library looking to issue passports … and stomp out smoking

Michelle Hughes (left), assistant director of the Dover Public Library, and Margie Cyr, the library’s director, hope to add a passport service and eliminate smoking on the facility’s grounds. Dover council has scheduled votes on those issues. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

Michelle Hughes (left), assistant director of the Dover Public Library, and Margie Cyr, the library’s director, hope to add a passport service and eliminate smoking on the facility’s grounds. Dover council has scheduled votes on those issues. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

DOVER — Dover Public Library is plenty busy with the Maurice Sendak Memorial Exhibition that’s running until Sept. 11.

In addition, Dover Comic Con is preparing to inundate the facility with thousands of visitors on Friday and Saturday.

But, even with all this going on, library director Margie Cyr and assistant library director Michelle Hughes remain behind the scenes trying to move the library forward.

They like to say there is always something going on at the library.

Cigarette butts, such as these near the rear entrance of the Dover Public Library, have become a common sight at the facility. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

Cigarette butts, such as these near the rear entrance of the Dover Public Library, have become a common sight at the facility. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

Members of Dover’s City Council will vote next Monday evening on whether or not to make the public library a Passport Acceptance Facility. They also will vote on whether to ban smoking on the library’s campus and grounds.

Both measures moved forward with backing at the Council Committee of the Whole meeting on July 26 and now await city council approval.

Ms. Cyr said the possible addition of a Passport Services Department on the second floor of the library would be more about convenience and less about bringing in money.

“For us, it’s more about providing a service to the community,” she said. “As a library we are very much a community-service facility and it’s our responsibility to provide the services that people of our community need.”

Ms. Cyr added that the proposed passport facility plans to offer services on Monday through Friday from 5 until 7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 1 until 4 p.m.

“The post office next door also provides passport service,” she said. “We don’t want to replicate what they’re doing. If city council approves our proposal then we will possibly provide the service in the evenings and on the weekends.

“It doesn’t replicate what [the post office is] doing, it just offers the service at a different time.”

The library envisions that two passport agents will need to be hired at 15 hours per week, with veterans being given preference in the hiring process.

The library proposes that the income from Passport Services be used to pay the agents and for supplies and equipment (camera, paper, envelopes, postage, etc.) and that any income earned above those costs be split 75 percent to the library and 25 percent to the city’s general fund.

The library hopes to use its share of such funding to increase its book, e-book and the audiovisual budgets, which Ms. Cyr said have been decreasing in recent years while costs and demands have increased.

As for smoking on library grounds, Ms. Hughes said it has been an ongoing concern and a smoking ban is a logical answer to the problem.

“The health of all visitors to the library was one of the big considerations for it,” she said. “Another big consideration was the care and maintenance of our grounds and facility.”

One survey card received by the library from James Trump III said, “Don’t let people smoke on property. Some people have breathing problems … Don’t smoke.”

Ms. Hughes said it was one of several suggestions the library received for a smoking ban. She noted that the facility has sustained some small damage due to small mulch fires started from cigarette butts that were not properly extinguished.

The most recent incident took place in June. A Dover Police Department cadet on duty had to use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

“We’re very concerned,” Ms. Hughes said. “We know that people are on the property at all hours, so when staff’s not here we can’t catch that and that could cause significant damage to the building. So that was of great concern to us as well.”

Councilman Roy Sudler doesn’t think the smoking ban should even be a question.

“I think if a smoking ban is enforced at one site in the city then it should be enforced across the board, including City Hall,” Councilman Sudler said. “We have to lead by example. You can’t just target certain individuals at certain places.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.