Letter to the Editor: Library tax needed

The following is a Letter to the Editor is in response to the MHCN article published March 14, 2013 entitled: “Library tax: Worth the investment?”

Voters in Bollinger County will have a chance to save the public library on April 2, 2013.

The library recently purchased a four-acre tract of land behind the Dollar General store for $90,913 with tax money and grant money already in its account. A $10,000.00 private donation helped with the purchase.

The library building is at the end of its life. In the last few years, it’s been flooded three times. If another flood strikes it, I suspect that the building will be condemned.

The plaster walls need major repairs. One of the outside walls was built years ago with a flawed system of block work. The library has spent over $150,000 cleaning up from the floods. The cost was kept down by using library staff labor. If the library had contracted out the job, the cost would have been about $240,000.

Taxpayer money shouldn’t go to trying to keep up a building that has outlived its usefulness.

A new building would have many advantages.

Currently we are weeding out books that are two years old instead of five or six. There is no more room on the shelves unless the books are put on the bottom shelf within flood range. Many different county groups that use the library’s meeting spaces, although currently there is barely enough room if more than one meeting is going on. The library doesn’t have a closed door study space for tutors to work with the school students they help. Private study rooms are a necessity.

After the last flood, the library staff was trying to clean up and people were begging them to get the computers up and running so they could file their claims, file for assistance, and do other business that was not available at their flooded properties. The library needs to be a resource in a disaster, not be part of the disaster. The library is the only “public” place that will allow meetings for community organizations. Most other entities have been “insured” out of allowing meetings. The library was a warming center in the last round of ice storms, which shows one way it can be a community asset in time of disaster.

A library is not just a great place to get good books, it is an information service organization for its citizens. The library cannot expand at its present location because there is no more acreage. A second floor cannot be built because no architect would certify the old walls. There is no more room.

The county archives are legally required to continue to archive public records. Genealogists also use the archives and that brings people who spend money into the county. The archive has no more room. It is not ADA accessible. The archive is being housed in an old garage with poor infrastructure as far as heating, air conditioning, electrical, climate control, etc.

The Missouri Extension Council has the capability to offer hundreds of programs for all ages, but has to limit those because they have no meeting and programming areas. They have to beg for space for 4-H, Master Gardeners, business and economic classes, farming, home economics, etc. They spearhead many of the ecological programs in our communities (recycling, home canning, soil testing, tree planting, etc.) They are planning on a commercial kitchen in their portion of the new facility to have classes but also to offer to the county residents that cook or bake items at home and want to sell them as a commercial enterprise. Without a commercial kitchen, these items can be sold only outside of the chain food stores. With this kitchen, they can sell them to any store. This means jobs.

One of the most important items the library offers is computer use. An informal survey of our computer users reveals:

1. At home businesses that either cannot afford a monthly satellite bill or even the satellite is not sufficient to handle today’s fast streaming customers. At least ten at home business people use our fast speeds to make their business better or use our templates for business cards, flyers, etc.

2. Job hunters use the employment websites to search for jobs, do resumes, contact future employers that need their info scanned and faxed, etc. We even have a handful of independent contractors that work with their nationwide network of job banks to get their next contract.

3. Commuting students to SEMO, Mineral Area, Three Rivers, etc. to do online classes here or take the tests.

4. Drop outs who figured out that they messed up and are working on their GEDs.

5. Medical patients that are tired of getting the run around from their doctors and are researching their problem on their own or find a specialist that may not be in our area.

These are just a few reasons we need a new library. If you have further questions, you may visit the library and discuss the upcoming vote with the staff members.

Thanks to Clint Lacy, for giving me this forum. I appreciate it.

–Bill Hopkins

About aldermanlacy

I am just an average blue collar American who works hard and tries to be a good dad. I have a passion for history, music and freedom.

One Response to “Letter to the Editor: Library tax needed”

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