The Kellogg-Hubbard Library funding request for Berlin is doubling this year. According to the December letter to the Montpelier City Council (on the KHL website link for info on 2013 funding requests), “A figure of $25.00 per registered library card user has been assessed to the surrounding communities of Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex and Worcester.” In the Dec. 14 Times Argus article “Kellogg-Hubbard says it needs more funding” it says, “Berlin would have the most drastic change under the proposal, more than doubling its one-year contribution from $12,557 to $26,925.”
If you divide $26,925 by $25, that indicates this was determined from having 1,077 Berlin library card users. With the 2010 population of Berlin being 2,887 residents (about 1,100 households), I find it highly unlikely there are over 1,000 active library card users from Berlin. If there are, they are families with multiple card holders who are apt to limit themselves to one card if they are having to pay. Many elementary students were signed up for library cards on school field trips, but that does not mean they have become active library users.
If the voters choose not to support this request, Berlin residents will be charged $40 each for a library card. To receive the equivalent of the $12,557 (which voters have previously approved) there would need to be 314 Berlin people getting cards. To receive $26,925, 673 people would need to pay. The last time KHL asked for a substantial increase from Berlin voters it was voted down. I’m not sure how many residents paid for cards that year.
There are other nearby libraries that are already being used by some Berlin residents who happen to live closer to them — the Aldrich Public Library in Barre ($12 per year for a library card) and the Brown Library in Northfield ($24 per year), and these will probably be turned to more if the KHL request is not approved.
The city of Montpelier and the town of Berlin each bring unique and complementary businesses and services that benefit our community as a whole. Our family absolutely loves libraries and bookstores, and we are fortunate to have many to access. I really wish this funding request were going to be by floor vote so it could be discussed and a more appropriate amount of funding could be agreed upon.
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