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Raise sought for town librarian; Trustees ask for $7,000.

Byline: J.P. Ellery

WEST BROOKFIELD - Residents may consider $7,000 a hefty pay hike, but library trustees say the director of Merriam-Gilbert Public Library has fallen way behind in compensation.

Lisa M. Careau has been employed at the Route 9 library since 1997, previously serving as assistant librarian for children's services. In 2001, she was named interim director at a salary of $23,462 and weeks later became library director at $27,173, replacing Elizabeth Zemelka, who had resigned.

Ms. Careau now makes $34,761 annually for a 32-hour week, but Alexandra McNitt, a trustee, said that salary is considerably less than Ms. Careau's counterparts in similar size communities.

"She is underpaid in comparison with her peers," Ms. McNitt told the Board of Selectmen Tuesday. "We are looking at a $7,000 differential annually."

Trustees presented a list of comparative salaries: $40,703 in Paxton, $40,485 in Berlin and $39,226 in Boylston.

They also submitted a revised job description for Ms. Careau, listing the changes in the position since it was last revised in 1996. Trustees said the job now has a lot more responsibility attached to it and Mr. Careau has kept pace with the advent of the Internet.

She has a bachelor of fine arts degree from Clark University in Worcester and a background in retail sales and visitor services at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge. She also was supervisor and art teacher at the Worcester Art Museum.

Ms. Careau was credited with increasing the library's interlibrary loan circulation, overseeing the maintenance of a library Web site that trustees said receives over 1,500 hits per week.

She has established a monthly book discussion group, an ongoing art exhibition program, expanded collaboration with local schools and the town's Senior Center. She also set-up an active Friends of the Library group, handled the library's municipal budget, has organized a volunteer corps to assist staff and computerized a lot of the library's records.

Selectman Barry J. Nadon Jr. said yesterday that a $7,000 pay raise in these tough economic times is hard to swallow, but "I don't have a problem with it."

He said $7,000 may be too much all at one time and proposed talking with Ms. Careau to see if $3,500 now and the other $3,500 later would be sufficient.

"I want to make it feasible for us," he said.

He and Selectman David M. Eisenthal said the next step is to meet with the town's Advisory Committee on finances on January 14 to see what members think about a pay raise of this magnitude.

"If we propose something, it needs to be approved (by voters) at a town meeting," Mr. Eisenthal said.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 2, 2009
Words:452
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