Change funding formula for regional libraries

To the editor:

We, the Board of the Marshall-Lyon County Library (MLCL), strongly support a $4 million funding increase to the Regional Library System. Likewise, we support the effort to change the state’s funding formula for Regional Libraries. This formula currently decreases Plum Creek’s (our Regional Library System) allotment each year the formula is applied. The last increase to Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) was in 2007. Since that time, Plum Creek has lost $135,000 from its budget; this leaves Plum Creek funding at 72 percent of the 2009 funding level. Yet during that same time-period, library use has continued to increase and library services and programs have diversified as a response to changing community demographics and needs.

The Marshall-Lyon County Library remains responsive to our community due to strong City and County support. Thus, we have been able to maintain services eliminated by Plum Creek due to their lack of state funding, such as rotating and sharing materials to all five public library locations in Lyon County. We have also been able to increase services for Lyon County residents beyond what Plum Creek can currently afford to do, such as providing additional digital library offerings. Unfortunately, not all libraries within the Plum Creek System can keep up in the same way MLCL has been able. This is a direct impact of the reduction in the state funding to Plum Creek and the other regional systems.

As state money to Plum Creek has shrunk, the cost to member libraries to keep Plum Creek operating at the most basic level (sharing an online catalog and delivery services to share the materials) has increased. For MLCL over the past 10 years, this has been a $17,838 or 165 percent increase in just these two areas.

It is clear this is a wholly unsustainable way to fund the Regional Library System. Minnesota has created an important, workable library system that reaches every part of the State and helps all citizens be successful in work, personal, and family pursuits. The Regional Libraries are the backbone of that system for public libraries. RLBSS needs to be funded at a level that continues these impacts.

Pam Gladis

Marshall-Lyon County Library Board

President, MLCL Board