Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 23, 2014

Library director asks for funds

Fairfield City Administrator Kevin Flanagan pointed out rural citizens get the same amount of service at the library as city residents, but at a much lower cost since the county contributes less than the city does to the library.
By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | Jan 07, 2013

Fairfield Public Library director Rebecca Johnson returned to the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors meeting today, bringing more statistics to ask again for an increase to the county’s annual funding from $66,000 in the past year to the 2010 level of $72,000.

Using the state public library website www.statelibraryofiowa.org, Johnson compared county funding for libraries of six other counties of similar population size or property valuation with Jefferson County. The lowest and highest examples of the six comparison counties were: Butler County spent $13.72 per capita for library funding; Humboldt County was at $29.43 per capita.

Jefferson County’s funding at $66,000 per year, works out to $14.16 per capita using the 4,659-population count of the unincorporated areas of the county.

The city of Fairfield funded the library at $326,344.

“It’s very common for the city to fund higher than the county,” said supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt.

Johnson said Fairfield Public Library’s volume in e-library services is about double the volume of other Iowa libraries of the same size.

“The library is the most used facility other than the recreation center in town,” said Kevin Flanagan, city administrator. “It’s fair to say rural citizens get the same amount of service at the library as city residents, but at a much lower cost.”

Dimmitt said he agrees that rural residents get the same service at $14.16 per person.

“I’m curious how many rural users come in to the library,” he said. “How do you determine how many rural residents physically come in and use the library?”

Johnson didn’t have that data available.

“The truth is we are being paid to make services available to all entities whether or not they physically use the library,” she said. “We’re required to provide more and more technology. With a $15 an hour budget for tech support, we can only find applicants who do it for the love of libraries or to gain experience and move on to higher paying jobs. At $15 per hour for tech, we’re not able to provide what the community wants.”

Flanagan said Fairfield is falling below the state average in funding its library.

“We ask our department heads to stay at 1 percent allowable growth [for annual budgeting] unless justified by revenue offset,” said Dimmitt. “We run things lean.”

Supervisor Dick Reed said the board is in the listening stage for budget preparation, “And you are in the requesting stage.

“I like to see how our neighbors are doing and want to see that we’ll do well and be fair and stay lean.”

Flanagan said the city also wants to stay lean.

“I’d like to see it [funding] come up to an even $72,000, the 2010 county funding level,” said Flanagan. “I’d appreciate that commitment from the board to restore the funding level.”

 

Clarification: Johnson explains library figures

 

Fairfield Public Library director Rebecca Johnson has clarified figures in the “Library asks for funds” article on the front page of Monday’s Ledger.

Johnson said she was quoted as saying the library’s volume in e-library services is about double the volume of other Iowa libraries of the same size, but “I was not comparing this library’s e-statistics with others because they represent only 2.3 percent of the picture last year.

“Instead,” she continued, “I was comparing total circulation. Year after year, our total circulation is roughly double that of … other size E libraries in similar-size towns. During 2011-2012, people borrowed things from us 186,406 times. Our downloadable books represented only 4,294 of last year’s total, or 2.3 percent.”

Johnson added people searched the library’s online databases 9,744 times last year, but she did not include that figure in total circulation.

“In other words, database usage was over and above the 186,406 circs,” Johnson said.

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