Two weeks ago the Union County Library System board said the library was in financial distress and would cut back its hours of service to save money.
Public concern was strong and immediate. Several stories about the library system’s financial straits were posted here and published in local ink-on-paper media.
Although a handful of people questioned the relevance of the public library in an age when more and more information is disseminated by digital devices and the Internet, the overwhelming majority of the direct responses we received at NAnewsweb.com were strongly, one might even say vehemently, in favor of fully funding library operations. A couple of thousand “hits” on what we posted at NAnewsweb.com, and a great many phone calls, e-mails, etc., to public officials and other media made it very clear that the people of Union County and New Albany were not prepared to see their library system struggle and possibly go out of business.
The proximate cause of the library financial crisis is the fact that the State of Mississippi has reduced its funding for library operations very sharply in recent years.
While we are aware of no attention whatever being paid to such problems by Governor Goober and the Mississippi state legislature, local governments — the Union County Board of Supervisors and the New Albany Board of Aldermen — have expressed publicly and privately their intention to do what they can to see that the local public library serves the community well, and for a long time to come.
No specific commitments have been made yet, but a few potential methods of action are being discussed.
Lynn West, the chairman of the Union County Library Board, has said he believes something akin to unanimity on the two boards favors additional local support for library services. Exactly what they will do remains to be seen.
Continued strong public support for the library will help assure that local officials take specific actions to assure the long-term viability of local library services. The following article by Barbara Fullers tells some of the reasons it is important:
By Barbara Fuller
The Union County Library has gotten press lately because of the money problems. Many people still think of the library only as a place to check out books. In the 21st Century a library is much more than that. The Union County Library has a web site to let patrons know what is available through the library.
There are books available: books for children, teens, and adults; ebooks; audiobooks; and large print books.
There are computers for children up to age 12. These computers have learning games and activities.
There are computers available with fiber optic internet hookup, and Wifi is available. The Magnolia Database, which is an electronic database that contains 45 different databases, is available for most any information and research you would need. This database has access to professional literature, periodicals, and books.
These computers also have access to databases for genealogy such as the library edition of Ancestry.com. This is in addition to an excellent genealogy room. The library’s computers have Microsoft office. Students from Northeast Community College, New Albany, and Union County Schools use this library as a resource for school assignments. These computers allow everyone to have access to computers and the internet.
At the library a person can send faxes and make copies. There is color printing available and scanners.
Programs available at the library at this time include:
In partnership with a civic organization, activities for people with special needs
Luncheon with Books once a month
Summer Reading Program for children
Donations can be made to the library through a Friends of the Library account at Regions Bank or Lynn Madden, Treasurer of Friends of the Library, 1027 CR342, New Albany. Memorials and Honorariums can also be given to the library through Lynn Madden.
For other articles about the library:
Barbara Fuller: The Library is in dire straits
Opinions: ‘Well, I Reckon‘