Library district exploring ways of spreading the word

The Poudre River Library District is reaching north.

The district recently opened a public computing center in Wellington and now is looking for ways to serve patrons in its sprawling territory that includes much of northern Larimer County.
The LaPorte community is a top priority and district representatives recently met with residents to begin discussions about the best way to provide services there.

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The dilemma is determining the most effective ways of doing so — at a school, a church, a mobile unit or some other site. The district currently operates three libraries in Fort Collins, including a branch at Front Range Community College. In 2010, about 80 percent of the district’s $8.7 million income came from property taxes collected in its 1,800-square mile service area.

“We’re looking for partners, then delivery (of services) rather than facilities,” said Irene Romsa, bilingual and diversity outreach coordinator for the district. “We just cannot figure a good model yet.”

There also is the issue of how the district should allocate its resources between digital technology and the comfortable old ink on paper.

“While the future is all electronics, I’m concerned about the children who don’t have access to that,” said Nancy Grice. She also worries that LaPorte is being left out because it’s small with little prospect for growth.

Poudre Canyon resident David LaMothe objected to rural residents being forced to “bail Fort Collins out,” when voters in 2009 approved creation of a library district and a property tax to support it.

Many people living in the outlying communities are paying the tax but getting no services, he said.
“We are being taxed for a lot of things we don’t want and don’t need,” he said.

Library district executive director Holly Carroll said the district is working make its services more available to residents in the rural areas. She said it currently is seeking a site to place computers and provide classes using a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Carroll suggested that collaboration with the schools seems promising, although there are obstacles to be resolved. “I think that’s a good place to start,” she said.