Saturday, October 4, 2014

LaPlata County Commissioners wanting to close rural libraries?

La Plata County Commissioners are actively considering axing La Plata County's two rural Public Library satellite branches.  I'd heard the rumors, then after reading an October 3rd Durango Herald article outlining the situation I was so unsettled by the prospect that I decided to write a Letter to the Editor and County Commissioners.

The following post is based on that letter along with quotes from the informative Durango Herald article and since I'm hoping this may inspire some others to contact our County Commissioners I've included their contact information at the end.
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A belated update: 
It’s not the end for two libraries

By Mary Shinn | Durango Herald staff writer " November 12, 2014

The La Plata County Commissioners responded to public concern about the fate of two county libraries Wednesday, and announced they will be fully funded.
 ... the total number of comments on libraryfunding to about 200, the most on any county issue in the last few years, County Commission Chairwoman Julie Westendorff said.  Commissioners asked for public feedback earlier this year about the relevancy of rural libraries, and they received an outpouring emphasizing their importance via email and at public meetings. …

To look at the budget, visit:
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How much is a library worth?
Sunnyside, Fort Lewis Mesa satellites under review
By Ann Butler Herald staff writer
Published: - Last modified: October 03. 2014 8:43PM

Durango Herald's Ann Butler writes: 
"That’s a question La Plata County commissioners are asking as they enter the budget process for 2015 and analyze the viability of keeping satellite public libraries open at Fort Lewis Mesa and Sunnyside elementary schools.
“We’re looking at everything, not just the libraries,” Commissioner Julie Westendorff said. “We want to know, ‘Is this still relevant?’ ‘Is this still worth La Plata County’s dollars?’”" 
"The annual library budget for the county is about $113,000, County Manager Joe Kerby said, with about $53,600 going to Fort Lewis Mesa and just over $60,000 to Sunnyside

Regarding, "How much is a library worth?  Sunnyside, Fort Lewis Mesa satellites under review" (Durango Herald 10-3-14) and the county commissioners questioning their long standing support of La Plata's two rural libraries.

I don't know who's behind this push to shutter Durango Library's two satellites branches but I have to think it's someone who hasn't spent time at either of these libraries.  Someone who doesn't appreciate that "old growth" rural communities still exist in La Plata County.  

It's ironic thinking of the Durango Public Library abandoning that fine Carnegie Library and spending 19 million dollars on a new library that spared no expense to create a grand facade for all to marvel at.  I'm not saying there weren't good reasons for those choices - I'm saying those choices are proof of the importance of libraries to their immediate community!

Durango Herald's Ann Butler writes: “It’s easy to say it’s only $110,000 in a $70 million budget,” Westendorff said. “But that $110,000 could be significant in some other department’s budget.”

There is more to Durango's charm than exists within your city limits.  This casual, nay, deadly serious talk about shuttering a couple of the last vibrant community centers in our rural areas is insensitive and counter-productive.  After all these facilities are used for much more than checking out books as Ann Butler's article pointed out.

La Plata's rural communities have a right to continue relying on their long standing local libraries.  We aren't asking for tens of thousands to be spent on art work and grand spaces to impress.  All we want is for our tax dollars to continue funding these two modest, functional, much used and loved libraries.  Two libraries that work in wonderful coordination with the Durango School District who provides the facilities, utilities and internet.  Talk about a sound continuing investment, try matching that deal.  

Keep up your end of the bargain La Plata County Commissioners!

Durango Herald's Ann Butler writes: 
“For me, personally, people calling in or writing and saying they love their library is very persuasive,” Westendorff said, “and saying it’s a community resource just adds value. We’ve gotten as much feedback on this issue as any budget line item in the two years I’ve been a commissioner" 


Guess they need more input from the community.  Now it's your turn, please get involved to save your local library - contact your La Plata County Commissioners

1060 East 2nd Ave
Durango, CO 81301

or email:
Bobby Lieb 
District 1 (Western La Plata County)

Julie Westendorff
District 3 (Eastern La Plata County)

Gwen Lachelt
District 2 (Central La Plata County)

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It might not hurt to contact the Friends of the Durango Public Library also: 

Nancy Peake

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Renee Sebestyen
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Or the Durango Public Library itself:
Andy White, Library Director

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Sandy Irwin, Assistant Library Director

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