Teamwork needed on library issue, council says

MARSHALL – There wasn’t a specific way forward yet for the Marshall-Lyon County Library, local officials said. But members of the Marshall City Council and the MLCL board of directors agreed Tuesday that they should come together with Lyon County Commissioners to talk about it.

A good chunk of discussion at a city planning and budget work session Tuesday night centered around the library and the possible consequences of the MLCL Board’s decision to leave the Plum Creek Regional Library System. The Lyon County Board held a public hearing on the subject last week and also faces some future decisions as to whether to keep funding MLCL.

As part of the discussion, council member Glenn Bayerkohler brought forward a draft memorandum of understanding, which he hoped could help the city, Lyon County and MLCL come together to address issues related to the library.

“This is here for discussion,” Bayerkohler said. However, he said he thought it was time for the council to take a more proactive approach to the library issue.

Bayerkohler said the decision to leave Plum Creek was one that had serious legal and financial ramifications. The city, county and library all needed to be involved in the decision-making process, and, if possible, find a way to resolve disputes with the regional library system, he said.

The memorandum of understanding Bayerkohler brought forward included five possible terms. The first was that MLCL should rejoin Plum Creek as soon as possible. Next, Bayerkohler said, the MLCL Board should continue to negotiate and try to resolve disputes with Plum Creek. The county, city and MLCL should work together with state legislators to establish a dispute resolution process for regional library systems. If those efforts weren’t successful, a joint county/city/MLCL committee should decide what the next course of action would be. Finally, Bayerkohler said, the 1987 agreement between the city, county and library should be updated.

“Leaving Plum Creek should be a last resort,” Bayerkohler said.

Bayerkohler suggested that the parties possibly seek “binding mediation,” a model of dispute resolution that he said was halfway between mediation and arbitration.

Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes pointed out that establishing a process for conflict resolution was part of a proposed mediation agreement that the Plum Creek Governing Board rejected in June. However, he and other council members said it was a good idea to seek conflict resolution and try to remain partners with the county and library.

“This is worth exploring,” said MLCL Board President Gwen Sturrock, although she said she did have some concerns about the possibility of MLCL returning to Plum Creek.

“At the moment, there is no clear path to do that,” said MLCL Board Vice President Will Thomas. Thomas said if it was possible to return to Plum Creek, he was also concerned about what the conditions of that arrangement might be.

Council member Larry Doom said there were also practical concerns, like library funding levels, to consider in going back to the table with the county.

Based on council members’ consensus, Byrnes suggested that the city move forward with trying to form a joint city/county/library group to look at options for resolving the conflict.