Saturday, June 25, 2011

You Are Not Welcome at this Library

Today my local news station's top story online was that the Independence Library revoked the library cards of hundreds of patrons. At first I just assumed a letter was sent to these people who had expired cards, but the story is much more confusing than this.

Independence, the town who is terminating library privileges for patrons, is the biggest town, servicing several other small towns. These towns do not have a library, and have never paid any money in taxes to use the Independence Library. After a year of discussion, and only two of the five towns agreeing to pay the $2 per resident fee to use the library, the other three towns' residents were informed that they could no longer check out books from the Independence Library. Part of me feels like this is wrong. Isn't the library supposed to be for everyone? Yet, I can understand the Independence Library Board's feelings - that their residents are paying money to materials that other people are using. Those materials cost money, and in order to keep supplying the library with adequate offerings, everyone who uses the library should be contributing a portion of their taxes to use the facility and all that is inside. What kind of a message are those towns sending to their residents? That they don't value what a library has to offer? That they don't care if students can't access information to complete homework? That they would rather have kids hanging out in other places that may not be as positively influential as a library?

I am a person who has library cards from 5 libraries. Only one of them is in the town I live in. I don't remember what questions are on the application form for a library card. But, part of me wonders that if there might be question that asks something along the lines of "Do you have a library card from another library?" In that way, the libraries where I am not a resident would be sure that part of my tax money was going to pay for library services - even if it wasn't in their town. Right now even the residents who offered to buy a library card were turned down, because that is not how library cards are made available. I don't like the idea of having to pay for a library card, but I would happily fork over $25 (or whatever amount) per year to pay for the privilege to check out books.

What do you think? Check out the link to the article about residents losing their library privileges.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This is just a sad state of affair Tina. In RI, one library card allows you to borrow books anywhere in the state. To me it seems that it is always the little people who can least afford discontinuation of services are hurt the most by decisions like this.

It angers me that we continue to give big businesses tax
X breaks, but we do not value educating our young, and funding resources to that end.

kenpen said...

I have to agree with Independence. If the towns aren't willing to pay the small amount to allow their citizens access, I think Independence was right to say no. It sucks, and if I lived in one of those towns I'd be ad. But, it does cost money to run libraries and it's not fair to those who are helping foot the bill.

Holly said...

I am also someone who uses several different libraries in my area (in 3 counties). I would be sad too if one of those places said I couldn't use their library anymore. I agree that those using the library should pay something into it but you think they could come to some kind of compromise instead of just telling the patrons who can no longer borrow from there tough luck.

Anonymous said...

So, there is no non-resident fee at all? I get confused about how libraries are funded in other states. In Texas, they are from the city tax funds - not with a dedicated tax, but from the general coffers, which are funded from sales tax and property taxes. However, the Austin library, up until a couple of years ago, had a non-resident fee.

All I know is that libraries are in trouble all over. I sympathize with the people who have had their cards taken away, but I also can see from the point of view of the library itself. It's really complicated.

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Anna said...

When I was a kid in CT, the town library was small and limited, which didn't help when writing reports, but I was able to get a card from a neighboring city. I had to show them I had a library card in my town of residence to get a card from the library. Not sure how the tax dollars played out, though.

In MD, I have a card from the county library, and I can use it at any branch in the county. I also can go online and reserve books they don't carry from other county libraries, and I was told that I can walk into another county's library with my card and check out books, but I haven't done it yet. I don't know how the tax money works for this, but I do know they are buying fewer new books and closing on Sundays to handle budget deficits.

I know that if I wanted to use a library outside my town or county, I would have been willing to pay a fee for the privilege!