The Pequot Lakes and Crosslake libraries are losing a combined $20,000 in funding, Jon Henke, director of Crosslake parks, recreation and library, told the Crosslake City Council on Monday, Feb. 11.
Henke told the council that the Kitchigami Regional Library System (KRLS) chose to cut the funding after the Crow Wing County Board moved $20,000 that would have been for KRLS to instead fund the Brainerd senior citizens center.
Henke said that in 2012, the Pequot Lakes and Crosslake libraries each received $10,000 in funding for new materials and extended services. In 2010 and 2011, that amount was $5,000 for each library.
He said the Crosslake and Pequot Lakes libraries plan to approach the KRLS board and ask for some of that funding back.
While all of Crow Wing County pays into a library fund through levied taxes, all of the money that the county gives to libraries goes to KRLS.
Henke and Nancy Adams, Pequot Lakes mayor and library coordinator, said any money for materials outside of what KRLS provided was raised entirely through donations or fundraisers.
Besides what they expected to receive from KRLS, the Pequot Lakes Library budgeted $1,000 for new materials this year, Adams said by phone.
The Brainerd Library’s fund from KRLS for new materials is $133,478, including $6,500 that is used for supplies like pens and paper, said Marian Ridge, KRLS director.
Both the Pequot and Crosslake libraries are not considered KRLS members, but associate libraries, Ridge said in a phone interview.
Neal Gaalswyk, chair of the KRLS board, said by phone that Crow Wing County unexpectedly cut the $20,000 from the KRLS budget, which left the KRLS board with the decision of how to cut the funding.
He said the Crow Wing County Board did not provide the KRLS board with any suggestions on how to cut funding, as other counties had done in the past when funding was cut.
Gaalswyk said the board reasoned that funding should be cut from associate libraries before it was cut from member libraries of KRLS.
“Kitchigami was faced with the task of reducing library services, and the decision the board made was to make that reduction in non-Kitchigami library services,” Gaalswyk said.
“In Crow Wing County the lion’s share of library dollars go to Brainerd, but 90-plus percent of circulation comes from the Brainerd library as well.”
Henke said circulation figures the board sees are for KRLS members only. The only circulation to Crosslake or Pequot Lakes the board looks at is those books delivered by KRLS to the Pequot and Crosslake libraries. It doesn’t include any circulation of books checked out at the counter.
Ridge confirmed this. She said to have over-the-counter circulation information from associate libraries like Pequot Lakes or Crosslake was “not appropriate” for KRLS.
“I didn’t think that was a fair way to compare libraries,” Henke said.
Henke argues that because all of the county pays into the KRLS library fund, some of that money should go to libraries like the Crosslake and Pequot Lakes libraries for materials.
He doubts that many people from Crosslake travel to the Brainerd library for library services.
Henke was sure to comment that he appreciates the partnership the Crosslake Library has had with KRLS.
“We want to view this problem in a positive way. We’ve been great partners for the last three years,” he said.
The Crosslake council authorized Henke to proceed with negotiations to reinstate funding.
Adams wrote a letter to the KRLS board.
“I would ask that you and the Kitchigami Board reconsider your vote to remove all funds for materials from Pequot Lakes and Crosslake. Our residents deserve what their levy funds provide,” she said.