Waterloo library's accreditation may be in danger - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo library's accreditation may be in danger

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WATERLOO (KWWL)-- The Waterloo Public Library attracts more than 275,000 visitors each year.  But possible state budget cuts could spell trouble for the library.

The city of Waterloo spared the library's funding this year, and actually increased the money it will get for new materials.  But the threat of state funding being slashed has the library concerned that it may have to cut operating hours and staff--standards used for accreditation.

"If we don't maintain that accreditation it means we're substandard in some area like our materials collection or the hours that we're open, even the number of seats we have in the building--we count that towards accreditation, and the number of staff members, etcetera," said Sheryl McGovern, Waterloo Library director.

The library receives $50,000 in state funding because it's accredited.  That means it meets certain guidelines designated by the State Library in Des Moines.  That funding allows the library to add new and updated materials to its collection, which are important to attract visitors.  And a quality library helps the community's image.

"People do look at places like the library, centers for the arts, parks, those kinds of things, when they make decisions to bring a company to the community or to move to the community themselves," McGovern said.

The library's already planning not to replace staff that leave or retire.  It will keep seeking outside funds to keep its budget in tact.

"We definitely encourage people when they're doing their planned giving to remember places like the library.  It's a great investment in the community.  We also go out and solicit to different groups and ask that they remember us so that we can offer free services to everyone at the library," said McGovern.

The library just hopes those new revenue sources will be enough to make up for any shortfall in state funding. 

The library's accreditation will be reconsidered before the next fiscal year in 2012 (FY2013).  If the library does lose accreditation, it wouldn't be the first time.  In the 1990s, Waterloo became the biggest city in Iowa without an accredited library.  Back then, a voter-approved library tax levy helped boost the bottom line, allowing the facility to eventually regain its accreditation.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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