At Elk Point’s regular town council meeting on November 12, Library Chair Laverne Wilson and Head Librarian Daphne Schnurer emphasized the value of the library to the town.
After the schools, it is the busiest public building in Elk Point.
Last year saw over 1500 patrons, some of whom relied on the librarians and the computers for assistance seeking jobs and writing resumes.
Being a small town, Elk Point has no government offices and few services, so the library’s role as a social network is essential.
Besides books for entertainment, education, or research, the library also provides videos, internet, computer training, career information, community teas, recreation events, meeting space, contests, exercise classes, history events, needlecraft afternoons, book clubs, and children’s programming.
Services are free and open to everyone. There are no membership fees.
However, despite its value to the town, there are costs.
Library hours were cut back severely last year due to a reduction in funding.
The library relies heavily on its “amazing Friends group,” which works BINGOs and casinos, but the money raised through gaming is restricted in its use.
While the Friends were able to replace the furnace and air conditioning and purchase materials, they could not provide salaries.
Schnurer asked that the grant from the Town be reinstated at $13,000, as it had been until last year’s budget.
The library will “definitely miss the STEP (Summer Temporary Employment Program) grant,” said Schnurer, who wonders how they will run the children’s reading program next summer.
Council considered the request, and Councillor Debra McQuinn, who sits on the library board, assured that the board is “not wasteful.”
The lessening of MSI grants (Municipal Sustainability Initiative), also hurts the town’s revenue and the library.
While not able to provide cash, the Town does support the library up to $60,000 per year with in-kind services like maintenance, materials, and manpower.
At the annual budget discussions this week, Council will determine what can be done for the library.
In the meantime, Council approved the immediate release of $2475 saved by the library from the 2019 budget by adding a smoke detection system to its existing alarm system instead of purchasing a whole new system.