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Jefferson Co. library officials request additional funding

February 04, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Saying demands from an increasing population in the area is putting a strain on their operations, the three public libraries in Jefferson County asked county officials Thursday for increases in funding.

The Shepherdstown Public Library, the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library and the South Jefferson Public Library each are asking for $40,000 this year from the Jefferson County Commission.

Last year, the commissioners gave each of the libraries $24,000, said Hali Taylor, director of the Shepherdstown Public Library.

Although the Charles Town Library is open to the public, it is privately operated.

In recent years, the three public libraries have dealt with below-average funding.

When all local funding for the three libraries is considered, the per capita funding for the libraries is ranked 79th out of 97 libraries in the state, said Taylor, who made the funding request to the commissioners.

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These days, libraries are more than a place to check out books, Taylor said.

They offer computer access, reading programs, cater to the needs of families who are home schooling their children and offer books on tape and CD, which is popular among commuters, Taylor said.

Taylor said the funding increase, if approved by the commissioners, would allow the libraries to double their staffing, expand their hours of service and upgrade their technology capabilities.

Commission President Rusty Morgan was sympathetic to the needs of the libraries.

The commissioners are beginning work on their annual budget, and Morgan said he would like to set up a long-term plan for funding libraries.

"Picking at it a year at a time is not going to get us there," Morgan said.

Morgan said he would like to explore an impact fee to help generate funding for libraries.

Impact fees, which are fees collected from builders to help offset costs of expanding public services, have already been approved for schools and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

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