If I had the money, this might be a better idea.

I received a rather interesting letter in the mail last week. It was from the city next door; in fact, I thought as I opened it that it might be the official receipt of my paperwork and dismissal of my <grumble> citation. Instead, it was a rather unexpected announcement from the city library announcing that they were now charging non-residents an annual fee to use their library.

I’m…not sure how I feel about this.

On one hand, I completely understand. With all of the budget cuts and shortfalls and financial chaos, a move to pull in more funding is smart. What’s more, it’s a worthy cause. It’s a library. What can I support if not my local(ish) library? I believe whole-heartedly in libraries. When I was in high school, I volunteered at my former elementary school’s library because budget cuts had eliminated the position. In college, one of my three jobs was as the assistant YA librarian at the main branch. For Gracie’s birthday, one of her big gifts was a library card – and we made a BIG production out of it. Familia de Katie supports libraries. Period.

On the other hand…it’s a library. I support my library because I support the availability of books and other materials and services to the public for free. True, we’re not residents of the city next door. I could join the library in our major metropolitan city if what I’m concerned about is “free.” I’m sure our library is just as nice. Problem is, it’s all the way downtown, which is quite a trek for us. And once we make the trek, we have to find parking. And sell one of the childrens to pay for parking. And it’s not like the library is in the nicest section of downtown. Joining the library in the next city over – even if it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from our house – is a luxury. Then again, because of my proximity to the city next door, I do spend a lot of my money at their stores and for their services, supporting their services, and they don’t seem to mind that so much.

Maybe it they weren’t asking for the moon. Because really, let’s face it: if they weren’t asking for so much money for the annual membership fee, I’d be all over it as a charitable donation of sorts. Problem is, they’re asking for $25 for a single user, check-out privileges only. $50 for a single user, check-out and a/v and computer usage privileges. And $75 for a family membership, full privileges. $75! That’s as much as I pay for the family zoo membership! They’re not even offering discounted rates for children’s’ memberships. So, I’m looking at $50 for Gracie and I to keep our library cards. Or, I could be a big meanie and keep my card and check out the girls’ books on my card, like I used to. Maybe I should make the library tell Gracie she can’t keep her card because they think it’s more important to charge her $25 than it is to promote her love of reading and learning. Personally, I think it would be a better PR move to charge $30 of $40 for a parent’s card and not charge for children’s cards for the that reason alone. I mean, it’s not like the library is being heavily utilized; giving my children access to your materials isn’t going to force a child who lives in that town to go without.

Anyway. I’m sure it’s a controversial topic; one I’m not entirely sure where I stand. If I had gobs of extra money (or even a little), I’d be all for it. Maybe? Because what about the other families? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer. But I sure wish these city managers would get it together and stop all the financial crisis. All these cuts and dire measures are starting to hurt.

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3 Responses to “If I had the money, this might be a better idea.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Our local library began charging three years ago. As a City resident I am exempt because my taxes pay for the Library. The yearly membership fee is $50.00 (youth or adult) or 1 adult and all children under 18 for $75.00. It is VERY controversial and even though I don’t have to pay I still have an issue with it. I understand the concept, I am just not in agreement. They also have something called the Youth One Book card that doesn’t have a fee and allows children to check out one book at a time. Even though it isn’t very practical, maybe your library has something similar?

  2. burghbaby Says:

    $75 strikes me as too much as well. It’s a zoo membership or even a Carnegie membership here, which gets you access to every Carnegie museum (there’s a bunch).

  3. karyn Says:

    $75 is alot. $25 for an adult is alot if they say you cant check out books for your kids. I just dont see how they can say you dont live here so you have to pay wgen you shop there more frequently than your own town. 😦 maybe take $20it every month and get them books they can keep? And at the end of each year let them donate old ones to other kids?

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