We’ve mentioned before that we’re fine-free — no charges on materials returned late — from the simple fact that these fees tend to be divisive when applied and tend to target some individuals and groups unfairly (e.g. children). We tend not to charge for other services either under the proviso that area residents have paid annually for library access through property taxes.
By Creed Kidd, Library Director
There are exceptions. For example, if you lose a book we ask you pay the replacement price (not the list price) of the item so that other users may continue to enjoy the title. We do charge competitive rates for office services such as copying and fax to pay for consumables.
However, this is not to suggest that the services you enjoy through the library — books checked-out, library-sponsored programming for children and adults, the annual summer reading program and computer and Internet access — are free. They are not. Every library service is an amalgam of planning, effort and budget.
Underwriting library services is done through personal donations, fundraising efforts by our Friends of the Library group, grants, and through county tax revenue. The latter allows stable funding from year-to-year.
The library is facing a 9 percent decrease in property tax revenue in 2014. This is not simply a matter of across-the-board cuts because there are inevitable fixed costs — such as utilities, insurance, and building maintenance — that will have to be paid at established or inflation-increased rates regardless of income.
The problem becomes that services — discretionary funding — tend to carry the brunt of such decreases and that directly impacts the quantity and quality of library services that you expect — and deserve — to see.
Beyond day-to-day current operations there are things we’d like to do in your behalf — based on your comments and recommendations — that require planning and money. For example, extending library hours to 6 or 7 days a week; expanding and developing more varied programming; delivering services closer and more convenient for you in Glacier View or Crystal Lakes; more library materials, not the least of which would be a respectable list of downloadable eBooks and audiobooks available both in-library and from the convenience of home.
This won’t happen overnight. However, it can happen through our collective efforts and sufficient funding carefully applied. To continue to guarantee future adequate funding for our library several local residents have formed a citizen’s group, the “Moving Our Library Forward” Committee with the purpose of seeking an increase in the Library District’s mill levy. You’ll be hearing more from and about these folks. I guarantee it.
October in Ruth’s Gallery: Lori Duke’s oil paintings.