Library committee covers more ground

MARSHALL – Efforts to try and reunite the Marshall-Lyon County Library with the Plum Creek Regional Library System took a tentative step forward on Wednesday. Members of a joint city/county/library committee recommended documents, including a resolution requesting Plum Creek membership, for the Marshall City Council to consider at its next meeting.

The joint committee met for the second time on Wednesday morning. Its discussion covered a lot of ground, from the legal ramifications of MLCL trying to re-join Plum Creek, to possible updates for a partnership agreement between the city of Marshall, Lyon County and MLCL.

Some questions the committee had the last time it met remained unanswered, like whether or not the Plum Creek Governing Board could refuse to accept MLCL back, or expel MLCL from the regional system. State statutes did not talk about either issue, said Marshall City Attorney Dennis Simpson.

Martig presented some new documents to the committee Wednesday, along with the memorandum of understanding drafted by Marshall City Council member Glenn Bayerkohler. That memo called for MLCL to re-join Plum Creek and seek conflict resolution.

Besides the memo, Martig brought forward a draft resolution requesting Plum Creek membership for MLCL. Martig said he had been in communication with Plum Creek director Mark Ranum and used conditions put forward by Ranum as terms in the resolution. Those terms included that the MLCL would agree to abide by Plum Creek joint powers agreement, bylaws and policies and pay for automation and delivery services; that MLCL would respect the majority rule of the Plum Creek Board; and that MLCL would cooperate in shared Plum Creek services like the OverDrive e-book service.

Martig said the Plum Creek Board would need to approve MLCL’s request before the library could join the system, like a new member. However, he said Ranum didn’t know if the board would set any additional terms for MLCL. One possibility would be payment of costs for getting MLCL back on Plum Creek’s computer catalog system.

“My question is . . . Say Plum Creek says, ‘We don’t want you in, no matter what?'” said MLCL Board President Gwen Sturrock. But the group didn’t have answers for that question.

Martig also brought forward a draft for an updated partnership agreement between the city, county and library. The current partnership agreement dates back to 1987, and committee members had suggested it be updated to reflect current statutes. Martig said the new draft also clarified some points, like Library Board membership, and termination clauses for the agreement.

Some of the most substantial changes, he said, outlined a more detailed budget process for MLCL. The draft called for the formation of a joint budget review board to recommend library funding levels for the year and for an earlier deadline for the city and county to commit to funding.

There were plenty of questions to go with the draft agreement, as well. While committee members agreed that Marshall, Lyon County and MLCL needed to have a workable agreement if they wanted to continue a partnership, there were other variables to consider. Lyon County Commissioner Rodney Stensrud said Plum Creek’s response to a possible membership request was one big factor. Money was another.

The county is committed to supporting its regional library system, and it also has to consider support for the Minneota and Tracy public libraries, said Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg. The outcome of the membership question would have a big impact on whether the county could continue to give any financial support to MLCL.

Martig said the Marshall City Council could likely consider the memorandum of understanding and the resolution to join Plum Creek at its next meeting.