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Library's valuable, says official

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

The Fayette County Public Library figures that it added more than $3.5 million in value to the community last year.

The library, at 828 N. Grand Ave., is changing with the times, Melissa Scott, assistant director, said. Still, the printed word – books and periodicals – is the largest portion of what the library deals in. She and Betsy Slaven, the library director, presented the library’s annual report to the Fayette County Council Tuesday.

Dale Strong, a county council member who is on the library board, expressed his pride in the library. He pointed out that the library provides about $3.5 million in services on its 12-cent tax levy. That figure includes the value of the library’s collection as well as the cost of services. The library has 14,412 registered borrowers.

The library loaned out 136,927 items in 2017 – just over four items for each county resident – Scott said. Books accounted for 95,509 of that. Non-print items totaled 36,213.

An increasing part of the library’s business is providing online resources, she said. The library’s internet and wifi resources had 21,008 hits. Slaven said the library added a service called Wowbrary in 2017. It sends a weekly email blast to library patrons with thumbnail reviews of new acquisitions.

Additionally, the library makes available the online versions of about 50 of the most popular magazines. “They’re all available with your library card, which is free,” Slaven said.

Scott, who is also the youth services librarian, said the library is readying a different kind of summer reading program for this year. It will be organized into week-long “camps” focused on subject areas such as science or history. On July 12, the library will have its fourth annual Community Youth Day.

In actions Tuesday, the council approved creating a part-time position for the Fayette County Soil and Water Conservation District. The person would work four to six hours a week on administrative work, outreach, program planning and seeking grants.

The district has not had any employees for a few years. The council cut the director’s position during budget belt-tightening. The conservation district’s volunteer chairman, David Caldwell, said wages for a person to keep the office open would be reimbursed to the county from a Clean Water Indiana grant.  

The council also heard but did not act on a financial consultant’s presentation. Jeff Peters of Franklin said his firm could analyze county finances and help devise a fiscal plan for about $20,000.