Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Library saves state certification – for $16,000

McGregor – Some days, the dragon wins. On other days, the dragon only appears to have submitted to defeat.

So it goes.

Trella Hughes, director of the McGinley Memorial Public Library in McGregor, Texas, appears to have a bemused understanding of the concept a day after the reluctant application of public funds saved her library's state certification.

The library is housed in the town's old movie theater, a building located on the main street downtown on Highway 317, a bleak and nearly bee-line straight stretch of road that leads to a hook-up with Interstate 35 at Belton, thence to Georgetown and on to Austin.

The City of McGregor contributed $11,000; the County of McLennan $5,000. The library, which serves a population of 7,472 circulating 10,500 items each year using its collection of 14,196 volumes, will retain its certification.

What do the patrons of the library receive in return?

The result, according to Ms. Hughes, is nothing - so far. What, then, exactly, does a local library receive in return for this state library certification?

“We don't know. Until they come up with their new – well, I don't know what you would call it,” said Ms. Hughes, recalling past days when state funding covered grants for books, computers, reading programs, and inter-library loans.

The State library Board will meet in September to form new plans with what to do about its non-existent budget following a legislative session that left the state library system virtually penniless.

Their formula for certification is based on a numerical formula that assigned the number 385 to the city's population of 7,472, the number of voumes in the collection, transactions thoughout the year, and other factors. Multiplying the number by the population set the formula for matching funds from local government at $16,000 in order to retain that all-important certification. What did that state certification guarantee in the past? Lone Star Grants.

Are there any Lone Star Grants to be had today?


Even the most basic services are up in the air. The Interlibrary Loan Service is a method whereby rare or out-of-print books may be loaned from other certified libraries located elsewhere in the state or the the nation to local patrons who would like to use them. They are sent through the U.S. Postal Service under the local parcel rate for books.

How will that service be provided now?

Ms. Trella said she believes patrons will be required to pay for it.

Then there is the Summer Reading Program. Kids who are out of school are encouraged to come to the library and check out books appropriate to their reading development, in order to both retain and sharpen their skills during the summer months.

Will the library be able to afford to do that in the future? No one knows.

A generous private patronage and corporate sponsorship helps with most needs, according to Ms. Trella.

What, exactly, does a vibrant and dynamic business community derive from such a program?

Well, for one thing, you've got to have people who are literate enough to read the laws and regulations and apply them, fill out the reports, do the calculations and keep abreast of developments in their field. It's too late to start learning how to read after high school graduation. That has taken place in the home throughout America's nearly monumental century-long drive to become universally literate.

What about the taxpayers? How do they benefit?

It helps to have public servants, shop clerks, salespersons, mechanics and investigators who have the basic literacy it takes to service your needs. There is no substitute.

It came down to a vote in McLennan County Commissioners' Court on Tuesday, August 23, to see if the library could get the $5,000 needed to retain the library's certification.

When Commissioner Ben Perry made a motion to bring the matter to a vote, County Judge Jim Lewis refused to do so. He said it should be addressed in a budget session, not in open Commissioners' Court on Tuesday morning.

Somehow, someone changed the judge's mind. How?

No one is talking.

Good. Sometimes, enough said is enough said.

As to the kids of McGregor and Moody - and all through that part of parched, sun-scorched McLennan County - The Legendary Jim Parks hopes like the devil that this time next year, they're all reading up a storm. I'd hate to look into the future and think otherwise.

There was a time when dark came early in this country. That's why they called those times the Dark Ages.

No comments:

Post a Comment