Library card revoked for hundreds of Buchanan County residents - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Library card revoked for hundreds of Buchanan County residents

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -

Every day, dozens of families stop by the Independence Public Library. They read the paper, hop on the internet, and usually take home a book or two. But this week, many library patrons learned their regular routine is coming to a halt. The Independence Library Director, Laura Blaker, sent a letter to three area communities warning them their library card would expire on July 1, 2011.

"I started reading this going, what do you mean, I can't use the library anymore? I don't understand, I can't take out a book anymore?" said Rowley resident Rikki Sorensen.

There are six libraries operating in Buchanan County, the largest in Independence. These communities pay, on average, $24.87 per resident to keep the libraries running. Brandon, Hazleton, Quasqueton, Rowley and Stanley were asked to pitch in $2.00 per resident to continue using the services. The rate would increase $1.00 annually, not to surpass 75% of the average rate of the six towns with libraries.

Only two towns agreed to the deal -- Hazleton and Brandon. City leaders in Quasqueton, Stanley and Rowley did not sign a contract.

I was surprised that it wasn't a more automatic response that, yeah, we need to do that... or our people need those library services. They depend on them," noted Blaker.

Blaker said the move has been a long time coming. She and county library board members started meeting with communities more than a year ago. They explained to mayors and city council members that it isn't feasible to continue operating the libraries without asking everyone who uses the services to pay for the services. It's the same principle as contracting for law enforcement or ambulance coverage.

"You wouldn't expect those other services for free, so people can't really expect to get library services for free either," Blaker said.

This doesn't mean folks can't use the library. You can still read a book or newspaper, as long as you don't take it home with you. You also need a library card to use the computers. But library activities, including children's programs, are still open to everyone.

"We definitely are not going to stand at the door and not let somebody in!" said Blaker.

Many families are upset... but hoping somehow things will be worked out, so they can continue checking out.

"I think it's going to hurt people in a way. It makes me sad. I really feel sad about losing my privilege of going there," said Sorensen.

Sorensen is one of several people who inquired about buying a library card. Library directors say that would go against one of the core values of a public library -- providing services regardless of income or financial status.

More than 200 smaller towns in Iowa contract for library services in nearby communities.

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