To the editor:
I attended the library public meeting on Wednesday night. From what I heard, according to Minnesota State Law, Lyon County is required to give $218,000 a year to one or more libraries belonging to a regional library system. The Marshall library used to belong to the Plum Creek Library System, and since Marshall was the largest library in the Plum Creek system, it received most of those funds.
The Lyon County commissioners are now trying to decide if they should still give the money to the Marshall library now that the Marshall-Lyon County Library (MLCL) board decided to withdraw from Plum Creek, or if they should give it to Plum Creek, even though we are no longer with them.
A number of people at the meeting said we need to have "integrity," and the Lyon County commissioners should still give the money to the Marshall library. But as I see it, if the commissioners are to have "integrity," they need to obey the law and give the money to libraries that belong to the regional library system.
Having integrity means doing the right thing, even when it's not popular, and even when it may not be in your best interests. So I don't think the Lyon County commissioners have a choice on this. If they want to uphold the law (which they swore an oath to do when they became commissioners), then they must give the money to Plum Creek libraries.
However, I think it would be a horrible use of taxpayers dollars to give the $218,000 to Plum Creek, and then refuse to belong to the system to take advantage of the services that we are paying for. If the MLCL board simply signed the agreement with Plum Creek once again, our library would have the funding it needs to continue to provide excellent service to the Marshall community, and we would once again have access to thousands of books through the interlibrary loan system.
In her opening comments at Wednesday's meeting, Gwen Sturrock said that if we do not receive that funding, then the library may have to charge fees to patrons and/or cut staff. I agree that without this funding, our library cannot continue to offer services at the level it has in the past. However, if we once again joined Plum Creek, then we would have that funding back, and would have the added benefit of the inter-library loan system. Gwen also said that the library is in talks with another large Minnesota library to do interlibrary loans. Even if that is the case, Marshall library loses much of its funding by leaving the regional library system.
The big hang-up the MLCL board has is in wanting to hold on to new books for six months, instead of releasing them to the interlibrary loan system after a shorter time, which is what the Plum Creek system requires, and what all the other libraries in the system are doing. To me, it is a small price to pay to wait for a new book, instead of losing this funding and access to countless books through other partnering libraries.
My opinion is that the MLCL board should humble themselves, swallow their pride, and go back to the Plum Creek system.
This would then allow the Lyon County commissioners to uphold the law while paying the $218,000 to the Marshall library.
Marshall resident of 20 years and library patron