The Red Feather Library Board of Trustees is hosting an open house for all Library District residents on Wednesday, July 16, from 7 to 8 p.m., to discuss “Funding the Library for the Future.” Yes, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room.
By Creed Kidd,
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Library financing is a triple play of fundraising, grants and property tax. Regarding the latter, you don’t like taxes; we don’t like taxes. However, most of us see them as a necessary unpleasantness, the framework that supports fundamental social structure: the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges and dams; social order through law and the just enforcement of law; health through the regulation of safe food and medicine.
Certainly there are excesses and money wasted. The fact that these are decried and/or are criminal offenses speaks well to our inherent sense of fairness, propriety and intent to do the right thing.
Your library, Red Feather Lakes Community Library, is a locally funded, locally managed independent library district whose sole purpose is to provide library and community services to the residents in Crystal Lakes, Glacier View and Red Feather Lakes. We also provide services to part-time residents and visitors. Our take is that if visitors are treated respectfully and well, those folk leave with a positive regard for our area and are likely to return and continue to use local businesses and services.
“Publicly funded,” of course, means that your library (a tax-supported facility) relies on annual income from you to pay the bills and provide services to you. We consider this co-op arrangement a tremendous bang for the buck. However, just as you likely rely on a steady income to pay the monthly utilities and reoccurring bills, so do we. A stable income allows you, and us, to plan ahead for the best and most efficient use of resources. As you are unlikely to rely on fundraisers to pay your insurance or rent, a stable income allows us to maintain a tight budget while fundraisers enhance and improve services to you.
Just as you live within your means so must we. Since the creation of the Library District in 2000, income and services have mostly correlated and has still allowed, with the assistance of grants and generous benefactors, the development of this amazing local facility, one that constantly impresses visitors and newcomers to our area.
In recent years, however, library income has not matched the increasing cost of doing business. That means that increasingly primary fundraising activities have shifted from services to support. To counter this continuing and troubling trend, the Board of Trustees – your local friends and neighbors – voted unanimously to put an increase in the library’s mill levy rate to a vote in November.
However, first, we need to hear from you.