Don’t turn library into another problem
The Wilkes County commissioners have lots of challenges to deal with:
• one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the state;
• Lagging economic development because businesses don’t want to move here;
• Mediocre schools compared to other North Carolina school districts;
• Residents treating our roads and streams as their personal garbage dumps;
• Young people leaving as soon as they can for better opportunity elsewhere;
• A critical housing shortage and a growing homeless problem.
Clearly, our county commissioners face huge challenges, but what do they spend their time on—cancelling ties with the Appalachian Regional Library System. This is an action seeking a problem and one more step in turning Wilkes County into an oasis of ignorance. Are our commissioners governing by the rule, “If it ain’t broke, break it”?
Wilkes County’s affiliation with the Appalachian Regional Library system greatly expands our library’s resources, benefits our schools and supports Wilkes Community College students. Through this arrangement, Wilkes students can get access to almost every library in the state.
They can get free books, free access to countless digital resources including genealogy databases, free videos, free test preparation materials, free career development tools, and more. How do our commissioners plan to replace these benefits?
Upon investigation, here is what I have found regarding funding of our affiliation with the Appalahian Regional Library system: Wilkes County money all stays in Wilkes County. It does not pay for anything regional other than we pay one-third of the cost of the services such as our digital collections, as we should. Ashe and Watauga counties pay the other two-thirds. Money for the regional expenses, like the director’s salary, comes from state aid only.
The money from the county pays for Wilkes County Library staff and benefits, and some of the operational costs for the building. It stays right here in Wilkes County. Our Friends of the Library money pays for Wilkes collections and programs, right here in Wilkes County. Endowment money pays for Wilkes collections, right here in Wilkes.
It is worth noting that the commissioners cut money for library salaries by 14% in 2020. You can’t expand services to Ronda, Millers Creek, etc., as Eddie Settle claims he wants to do, by reducing the budget. To me it looks like there is some kind of hidden agenda at work here.
The benefits of belonging to the Appalachian Regional Library system are obvious, but the benefits of dropping out of the system are not. Email our commissioners and let them know we have a great library and they should stop messing with it. Their email addresses are: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; and firstname.lastname@example.org.
DR. GEORGE SHAFER,