Monday, August 3, 2009

To join or not to join - that is the library question

Tonight at the Renton City Council meeting, step two in the process of allowing the public to vote on whether or not our Renton Public Library joins the King County Library System (KCLS) takes place. On July 20th, the reading of the ordinance was held and tonight it is the approval of said ordinance, which can be seen here at the City of Renton website item number 10, that will be addressed and voted upon.

In August, The Renton Reporter had an article about this issue, fleshing out a little bit of the opposing thoughts and dynamics concerning whether our city loses its independence and possibly staffing to join up with the King County Library System or remain autonomous but find the absolutely necessary funding to improve and expand a library service that has been coasting along on minimal funds and because of it, fallen woefully behind in servicing a fast growing population.

Last month, I posted a link to a survey that was available online for the general populace to make their voices heard about what local library services they felt were more important and basically asking them, if they were the library accountant, where would they scale back and what areas would need more primping and plumping. The survey purportedly was online until 7/31 and the next move for accumulating public feedback will be through an enclosed survey in utility bills which you should see in the mail shortly.

Whatever the outcome, whatever each personal view we might hold - the library needs more money to bring it's services on par with others in the nation and to meet the needs of a changing and growing clientele. I personally like having the small town feel of a library that services it's own clientele first and foremost, allowing the staff to be hired for our town's needs and not being a mere cog in a larger wheel. The consultants that were initially hired by the city, Mirriam Pollack & Associates along with Tina Roose of Roose Research, are also in favor of not joining the KCLS but see a need for a huge infusion of cash and effort. Bottom line, though - how do we market this to the people at a time when finances everywhere are stressed? Being a library and book lover all of my life, I hope to see a little more information about this issue in print before it comes to vote. I don't think anyone yet has a clear picture of just what either choice will bring us where our library's future is concerned. I just have a glimpse - and it makes me want the library to remain a Renton concern.
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