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Valentines solicit help for library

February 15, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - When the Washington County Commissioners check their mail this week, it's possible their boxes will be stuffed with little red valentines.

Depending on which way the County Commissioners look at it, the message the cards bear might or might not be sweet.

The Washington County Free Library handed out the cards one day last week and on Valentine's Day, asking patrons to send them to the commissioners in support of a funding increase for the library, library Director Mary Baykan said Monday.

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Baykan said the cards state something along the lines of, "A Valentine for our commissioners, please fund the library."

She said the library made hundreds of cards and that patrons keep asking for more.

The cards were an attempt "to make everyone smile, including the commissioners," Baykan said.

But at least one commissioner won't be grinning.

Commissioner John C. Munson said Monday he thought the library's valentines were wasteful spending.

"If they need more money, why are they wasting their money on valentines?" Munson said.

He said he had yet to receive any of the cards.

The library is requesting a $400,000 increase for fiscal year 2006 over the $1.77 million it received from the commissioners this fiscal year, Baykan said.

Fiscal year 2006 begins July 1.

"We have a budget that we support, and we're hoping to get full funding for the first time in years from our County Commissioners," Baykan said.

Baykan said the funding increase is necessary for several reasons, including to pay for upgrades to the aging South Potomac Street facility, to make library salaries competitive and for an expansion of library resources.

She said more than 60 percent of the county's residents have library cards, but that the library is the lowest per capita-funded library in the state.

At the same time, she said residents consider the library an essential public service.

"We have a number of issues here that we simply need addressed," Baykan said.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said Monday he also hadn't received any of the valentines but that maybe the cards weren't the best approach for the library to get its message across.

"We're all aware of the funding situation," Wivell said. "We do what we can."

He said phone calls from concerned patrons or hearing from them at commissioners meetings would have been more effective.

"They need to come and talk to us if they have problems," Munson said.

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