Orange Selectboard to consider defunding town libraries

Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange.

Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ


Staff Writer

Published: 05-15-2024 4:51 PM

Modified: 05-17-2024 2:13 PM

ORANGE — Residents are encouraged to attend or tune in to Thursday’s Selectboard meeting to have their voices heard on the possibility of removing all funding from the town’s two libraries.

Orange is cash-strapped and Town Administrator Matt Fortier has suggested the town zero-fund the Wheeler Memorial and Moore-Leland libraries, which would force their closure at the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The town budget is the lone item on the agenda for the Selectboard meeting slated for 5 p.m.

“While we have department cuts, I could not find a way to fund the library,” Fortier said about the budget at a Selectboard meeting on May 9, elaborating that the cost to operate the buildings and employ the staff runs between $400,000 and $500,000. “I couldn’t figure out another way to find that money.”

Jason Sullivan-Flynn, the libraries’ new director, used the portion of the May 9 meeting reserved for open comments from the public to remind Selectboard members of the services the libraries offer. He mentioned programs that provide opportunities for children’s learning and literacy, and said the libraries enable social interaction with peers outside of school while also giving new parents access to books and materials for their children and the chance to meet other parents. Sullivan-Flynn also spoke about storytimes, the LEGO Club, various book clubs, the knitting and crocheting club, and summer reading and endangered species programs.

In addition, Sullivan-Flynn mentioned the annual Robert P. Collén Poetry Contest and said the libraries provide books to homeschooled children.

“Please keep that in mind as you consider the budgetary options this year,” Sullivan-Flynn said.

At a general biweekly meeting the day before, Selectboard Chair Tom Smith said it had been a “week from hell.”

“There may be some cuts that you don’t like, but we don’t have any choice,” he said. “We’ve only got so much money and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”

Smith also thanked Fortier and Administrative Assistant Brianne Bruso for working “literally around the clock” on the issue.

Thursday’s meeting can be watched live on Zoom at

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-930-4120.