Council should see benefit of additional library funding

Express Editorial

     If you’ve been reading the Monticello City Council coverage in the Express lately, or attend council meetings, or watch the council meetings on Public Access/MediaCom or livestream them online, then you’re likely aware of the funding battle the Monticello Public Library is tackling.

     The Library Board of Directors, all local volunteers, is requesting $122,500 from the city, just $2,500 more than the previous fiscal year.

     The additional money will go toward employee wages. The library board feels it’s important to compensate their librarians fairly. If you provide a competitive wage, you don’t have to worry about your employees leaving to find a better-paying job.

     The city council seems to be hung up on the fact that the library board voted to move one of the library’s part-time employees to full-time. This employee was working 30 hours a week; now she works 40. Yes, her bump in hours meant she was eligible for benefits, which she is also entitled to. She’s able to dedicate the time needed to the amazing programming and events the library offers for so many people of all ages.

     The council has asked that the library board rethink its hours of operation, as well as its staffing.

     The library is currently open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Any cuts that may go into effect could perhaps mean the library not being available when needed.

     When new people move into a town, or visitors drive through or stop and stay a while, they take note of the services offered: good schools, swimming pool, recreational opportunities, restaurants, churches, shopping, and a library. A library may not be the definition of a city’s “essential service,” but it’s pretty important.

     The Monticello library does so much. Aside from the norm of providing materials for checkout, the library also brings people into its doors through children, teen and adult programming. The library’s after-school, evening and weekend programs and events have grown so much since the library opened in its new location 12 years ago.

     The library’s public computers and open Wi-Fi access is another huge draw. People of all ages use the computers to play games, check e-mail, take online educational tests, apply for jobs online, type papers for school, and so much more.

     When the Monticello school district implements its one-on-one computer access next school year, every student in the district will have access to some form of technology that allows him/her to productively work on homework and turn it in all online. Some families in this community do not have computers at home, much less Internet access. Students in Monticello need to be able to access the Internet. Researching topics in books and encyclopedias is a thing of the past. If the school is adapting to technology, the community must do the same. That is possible through the library.

     If the library cuts its hours, that is less time students can access the library’s computers and Internet.

     I encourage the city council to fund the library’s request for an additional $2,500. I would consider it money well spent. (Mark Spensley)



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