Tough pill to swallow, but library board had no other choice

Is it the perfect scenario? No. But patrons of the Marshall-Lyon County Library can breathe a bit easier this week knowing that regular library services will be available in the future.

The MLCL board voted Monday to accept the Plum Creek Library System resolution to remain a member in good standing of the PCLS. The vote was 6-2 and came less than a week after the Plum Creek governing board rejected a proposed mediation agreement between MLCL and Plum Creek.

That means the MLCL board had a choice to make: Splinter off on its own or comply with current and future Plum Creek policies.

It chose the latter. In a strained relationship, it’s called making the best of a bad situation.

According to an email from oft-criticized Plum Creek Director Mark Ranum, the PCLS will lift restrictions on library users in the coming weeks, so access to all services will be restored.

We all know this isn’t a perfect world and not all are happy about Monday’s outcome, but if playing by Plum Creek’s rules is what it takes for a quick resolution and what is ultimately best for library patrons, then the library must play the game for now. Had the library scoffed and voted to not accept the PCLS resolution and live by PCLS’s terms, the door to vital state interlibrary loan services would’ve been slammed shut, and the library would’ve lost out on future Legacy funding. Gone, too, would’ve been a computer catalog and checkout system. Image a beautifully-wrapped present with no gift inside.

Since neither the city of Marshall nor the county appears able to offer the monetary support necessary to keep the library viable under independent status, the decision to accept the PCLS’s terms appears to be a no-brainer. After all, autonomy has its price.

While it may seem to some the library was being held hostage during this ordeal, backed into a corner and forced to wave the white flag while it picks the lesser of two evils, we would rather see this most important community asset turn the corner and put ill will behind it. No one would dare imply everyone is delighted about how this played out, but it is time to look ahead.

Is this the end of the story? Probably more like the end of one long, memorable chapter. We hope the next will find the library picking itself up and pursuing avenues to better its situation with persistence and vigor.