Library boards discuss possible consolidation

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TC, Cannelton groups explore benefits of merger

By Trista Lutgring

TELL CITY - Tell City-Perry County Public Library board members learned during their monthly meeting March 3 that Cannelton Public Library was considering the option of consolidating with the TC-PC Library. In an e-mail sent to Library Director Larry Oathout March 1, Cannelton Library Board Director Sally Walker informed him that the board there had voted to investigate the possibility of merging the two libraries into one. To begin the merger, Oathout explained, both library boards would have to approve a "resolution to plan for a merger" at their next meetings. Once one library signs a resolution, "the clock starts ticking," he said, on a one-year timeline the libraries will have to consolidate. "We're just discussing the possibility of merging (tonight)?" board president Mickey Fischer asked. "Even when we go through this procedure, we can still say it's not going to work and we can't do it right now?" "Yes," Oathout replied. "Right now we are just approving to look at it." He went on to explain that the resolution the board might sign at the next meeting just states that the libraries are "willing to look" into merging. After the libraries reach an agreement during the one-year timeline, the boards will sign another resolution to complete the merger. The state library is also "very willing to help us," if the two libraries decide to continue with the merge, Oathout told board members. He read a letter to the Cannelton board acknowledging that the message of possible consolidation had been received. It went on to state that the directors will provide the boards with documents for consideration at the next meeting. The members approved the letter. The libraries had previously attempted merging in 2008, Oathout said.  New state statutes for libraries were also discussed at the meeting. After reviewing the new statutes for Class B libraries, which Tell City-Perry County falls into, Oathout told board members that the library was "in pretty good shape." The library exceeded the minimum or was exceptional-exemplary in the majority of the statutes, including programs, technology levels, adult services and young adult and children services. One thing that would need to be adjusted, Oathout said, was that an answering machine, voicemail or other similar technology would need to be added to provide operating hours for the public. He also noted that the library would have to participate in a statewide delivery service provided by the Indiana State Library at least one more day a week to meet the minimum requirements. Another new statute mandates that Class B libraries spend at least 7.5 percent of their budgets on materials. The library is currently meeting enhanced standards by spending around 15 percent, Oathout said. In other business, board members approved to adjust the pay of contract employees. Oathout also reported that statistics for the library were down for the month due to the library being closed because of the weather. The library did see a jump in online audio for children, which can be viewed on desktops at the library or at home. Oathout noted that children home from school and logging onto the library's online audio site probably contributed to the jump.

The next board meeting will be April 7 at 5:30 p.m.