The rest of the story on the library

To the editor:

I was put on the library board in January. In January, the library director had a meeting with my wife and me and told us all the horror stories of Plum Creek. I don’t just listen to one side of the story, but rather I research out the whole story.

At that time, I began to call the libraries and board members of Plum Creek to hear their side of the story. I was amazed at the fact that the two sides of the story were not even close to similar.

In March, I talked to Plum Creek to work out a deal on circulation policies. At which time, Plum Creek offered the Marshall library almost the same deal they reached at mediation where they could keep their new books for 30 days. And if there was someone from Marshall that wanted that book beyond 30 days, Marshall’s holds would come first. If there are multiple copies of that new book, the extra copies would not be affected by the circulation policy. This was not even put on the agenda. It was forced on the agenda by me so the board would even talk about it. At which time, they added several items that they wanted as well and the deal was refused by MLCL.

After mediation started, Marshall library asked me to get them an extended period of time to use the Plum Creek automation system in case mediation failed. At which time, Plum Creek offered them a six-month extension, and immediately all book borrowing rights were restored to them until Jan. 1, 2015. This enabled Marshall to use the Plum Creek automation system to serve their patrons. This, too, never got on the agenda. It was thrown under the bus by Will Thomas before it was even considered.

Will’s reasoning was that it undermined the mediation process because it asks the Marshall library system to follow all the rules the rest of the libraries are following. But, if in mediation any policies were changed, those would be the rules that would be enforced for all libraries. So that really was not a threat to the mediation process. This offer was refused by MLCL.

When the mediation agreement was finished, all the concessions of the mediation were the ones that Marshall library wanted for themselves. At that time, finding little support of the mediation agreement from the Plum Creek board, the Plum Creek board wanted one concession from the Marshall library. That was that Marshall would stay in the Plum Creek system for a guaranteed period of time so that Plum Creek could work with them on all the issues and not have Marshall withdrawing again two months later because they were upset. The first offer was three years, no counter was given by MLCL – that request was refused. The fact is if that would have been in the mediation agreement, the mediation would have been agreed to by Plum Creek. Plum Creek received no concessions.

Now the taxpayers in Lyon County are forced to choose an option: 1) More taxes for less library services, or 2) the county uses the maintenance of effort money that they levy in taxes to fund libraries that are in the regional library system. In doing so, the county may fund a separate Plum Creek service library in Marshall so that residents would have an opportunity to get all of their services back. By doing this, taxpayers would have access to millions of books within the whole state from interlibrary loans. Residents will be limited to thousands within the Marshall library.

Unfortunately, the Marshall library cannot operate with the $263,000 that the county funds them each year. The county would either have to double their library levy or the City of Marshall will have to levy they $263,000 to make the library work. Joe Amato told the county, just raise taxes and spend another $200,000 – for him that would be fine, he doesn’t pay county library tax, he lives in Marshall.

The funding for the library was not taken away. The library left it and Plum Creek behind for their quest to be independent. It is not too late to go back to Plum Creek.

Charlie Sanow

Lyon County commissioner