Lyon County says it wants to negotiate, not pull out of library system

MARSHALL – The Lyon County Board has stepped back from a declaration that the county would withdraw from the Plum Creek regional library system this year. At their regular meeting Tuesday, county commissioners said they wanted to try going through a negotiation process instead of leaving the Plum Creek system.

“I want to see negotiations go forward,” said Commissioner Charlie Sanow, the county board’s representative on the Marshall-Lyon County Library Board and the Plum Creek board of directors. He said any solutions that might come out of those negotiations would still need to be approved by the Plum Creek board, but county commissioners agreed it was worth a try.

Back in December, both the county board and the Marshall-Lyon County Library Board had voted to declare their intent to withdraw from the Plum Creek system effective July 1. For several months, MLCL and Plum Creek have been locked in a stalemate over issues including sharing policies for new library materials. MLCL board members say the conflict boils down to a question of how much freedom Plum Creek member libraries have to set their own policies.

At the same time, questions had been raised as to whether state law would allow Lyon County to withdraw support from a regional library system.

On Tuesday, Sanow said MLCL members have been talking about trying to reach a compromise with Plum Creek, or going through mediation to reach one. He said MLCL board members will be meeting with the Minnesota state librarian in Rosemount on April 14-15 to possibly negotiate a solution.

If the state librarian doesn’t help MLCL reach a compromise with Plum Creek, Sanow said he’d still like to see some form of negotiations go forward.

“I basically agree with what Charlie’s saying,” said Commissioner Mark Goodenow. The decision to negotiate, he said, was “based on a long-term view of where we want (the library) to be.” In leaving Plum Creek, there was a risk that MLCL would lose some resources or services.

MLCL Board Chairman Will Thomas said the board hoped to reach a solution that will work for both the Plum Creek partnership and local library patrons.

“Our goal here is what it always has been – to provide the best possible library service to the people of Marshall and the people of Lyon County,” Thomas said.

Mark Ranum, the Plum Creek library system director, cautioned that any solutions would need to be approved by the Plum Creek governing board and member libraries. However, he said he was “happy to reaffirm” that Plum Creek was willing to negotiate with MLCL.

In the end, county board members voted to rescind their earlier declaration of intent to withdraw from Plum Creek and move forward with some form of negotiations.

In other business, commissioners voted to hire Mark Volz as the county Geographic Information Systems (GIS) coordinator, at an annual salary of $55,827. Lyon County Human Resources Director Carolyn McDonald said six candidates were interviewed for the position. Since January, Volz has served as a temporary replacement for former GIS Coordinator Brad Digre.

Before approving Volz for the GIS coordinator position, commissioners also discussed future needs for the county GIS department. The department provides services like mapping for Lac Qui Parle and Pipestone counties as well as Lyon County and without a full staff, it was becoming difficult to fulfill those agreements, commissioners said. In the future, they said, the county may consider filling a second GIS position and supporting the expansion of the county GIS to a more regionalized service.

Commissioners also approved the purchase of a new track loader for use at the Lyon County landfill. Lyon County Environmental Administrator Paul Henriksen recommended the county trade in a 2009 Caterpillar track loader and purchase a new one, for a total cost to the landfill of about $249,000. Commissioners approved the trade-in and purchase.