October 25, 2014

OUR VIEW: Saved but not yet safe

Perhaps Edgerton residents should be grateful the Johnson County Library board restored $19,000 of funding to keep the town library open.
Perhaps.
We’re more inclined to think Edgerton officials need to come up with a contingency plan in case their library ends up on the chopping block on an annual basis.
It’s no secret Edgerton’s Bank of Knowledge never met with the library board’s perceived plan , and only after a decade-long battle, and raising more than $165,000, plus hours of volunteer work, did the library board agree to provide essential services to Edgerton.
Edgerton is the only county community that had to build their own library, which is open staggered hours, and only 24 hours per week.
Prior to the lease agreement with the county library, Edgerton had collected books and money to fund their own library, similar to Wellsville and Olathe. They had considered opting out of the county library system.
We believe that’s still a better plan.
Currently Edgerton pays more than $72,000 in library taxes, yet according to the library board’s admission at their meeting last week, the county’s cost is only $19,000.
Johnson County has never shown much attachment to Edgerton, most recently county officials “turned a blind eye” when the Kansas House of Representatives lobbed off Edgerton and placed it with Baldwin in the 10th district, willingly tying Edgerton’s political future to Douglas County. This decision also effectively split the USD 231 school district.
Since state statute may require legislation to opt out of the library district if the Johnson County library wouldn’t agree, we suggest Edgerton officials look to their Douglas county representative for assistance.
At the very least, Edgerton city should either withhold, or pay their library taxes under protest, while investigating a scenario where they could maintain their own library, while forming a reciprocal agreement with another entity.
Wish we could say “thanks library board,” but it’s hard to say thank you to something that should never have been an issue to begin with.
There are those that do deserve thanks, however.
Within one week of being notified the library might have been shuttered, the outpouring of community support was incredible. Residents and officials put aside busy schedules to attend the meeting, and the support crossed community divides. A few of those present included: Former mayors (Gardner) Carol Lehman and (Edgerton) Frankie Cross, current Edgerton Mayor Donald Roberts, former USD 231 Superintendent Gary George and current Superintendent Bill Gilhaus and former school board member, and Johnson County Community College trustee Shirley Bruce Brown VanArsdale.
This shows what can happen when people, and communities, work together. We thank all those who joined together to keep the library open. Well done.
Thank you.
“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration. “ ~Andrew Carnegie

Comments

  1. Judith Rogers says:

    People sure have a short memory and twisted interruptation as what some of these so-called responsible citizens/community leaders have done to the people. Notice I said “to” the people rather than “for” the people.

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    The correct word should have been “interpretation”.

  3. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    I think Edgerton did a wonderful job with their hands-on efforts and private donations to bring the Bank of Knowledge to fruition. However, rather than now merely expressing verbal support for their facility at a library board budget meeting, maybe the community could show how much they love their library by significantly increasing their patronage.

    According to the January 2012 Johnson County Library Activity Report, user visits to the entire 13 library system declined 4.3% and Gardner branch visits fell 8.0% from the previous year. During the year ending January 2011, the Edgerton Bank of Knowledge branch had 18,499 user visits. During the year ending January 2012, user visits had declined to 14,789, an annual drop of 20.0%. Visits at Edgerton’s library during Jan. 2012 alone were 65.7% less than Jan. 2011.

    Items checked out at the Edgerton Library dropped from 22,944 for the year ending Jan. 2011 to 17,713 for the year ending Jan. 2012, a reduction of 22.8%. System-wide circulation dropped 6.9%; Gardner declined 7.0%. Edgerton Library users accounted for 0.27% of all items annually circulated and 0.54% of all annual user visits at the 13 libraries.

    January 2012 computer sessions at Edgerton were 0.2% of all library PC sessions (and 1/35th of the 7.0% of total sessions at Gardner).

    I could find no explanation for the $19,238 projected budget savings with the possible closure of the Edgerton Library when actual operation costs in 2011 were reported to be $64,765 for staffing, utilities and lease payments.

    My suggestion to the folks in zip code 66021 would simply be use it or lose it.

  4. With all due respect Mr. Kellogg, why don’t you cozy up to your Gardner mayor and leave Edgerton alone. Keep your nose out of our business; at least our council hasn’t made front page news swinging fists and breaking laws. You know nothing about the Edgerton community.

  5. Mr. Kellogg, I appreciate the facts you have presented. Maybe these items should also be considered? Most of the households in Edgerton are two incomes. That puts both parents out of town during the day. ( I happen to live there). My children were not allowed to hang out at the library when I wasn’t at home. Our family uses the library regularly. I do however, have to check the library website when I wish to pick up an item I have requested, because the hours vary by the day. Maybe if the branch were open in the evenings and the librarians weren’t afraid of the townfolk, or even longer on Saturday? It would be more user friendly to us. I am pretty sure usage picks up in the summer when the school is closed. (Judging my the number of bikes in the bike racks.) It is really easy to find solutions when you aren’t a resident, are you a resident Mr. Kellogg?

  6. next door neighbor says:

    Kellogg, when was the last time you went into Edgerton Library? I think I have more reading material at home. I use the library often, but I have to get online and have the books transferred from a different branch. God forbid, that the county should staff our library, and give us a selection to choose from. Close all the other libraries an hour earlier or open them an hour later. Figure out how much that would save the county, then let us know. Maybe they could give us more than three book shelves and 24 hours.

  7. Mr. Kellogg? says:

    Do you have any stats on how much coffee Blue Valley library sells at their coffee bar? Is it profitable? Maybe you could do the research and tell them how to run their community.

  8. You can tell the people who don’t care for Edgerton at all and are just out to attack Jerry Kellogg. He post valuable and relevant information, offering only the opinion that Edgerton citizens who want to keep their library make sure they actually USE it, and instead, we get comments like:

    *kelllogg – “With all due respect Mr. Kellogg, why don’t you cozy up to your Gardner mayor and leave Edgerton alone. Keep your nose out of our business; at least our council hasn’t made front page news swinging fists and breaking laws. You know nothing about the Edgerton community.”

    “Mr. Kellogg” – “Do you have any stats on how much coffee Blue Valley library sells at their coffee bar? Is it profitable? Maybe you could do the research and tell them how to run their community.”

    Apparently, there’s NO “due respect” when it comes to to the shameless commenters here.

    At least, CorgiMom and next door neighbor had perspectives that actually involved the library. Not sure why they would hold Kellogg responsible for the library’s selection or hours, seeing as how it’s the JoCo Library who runs the place.

    It’s just sad that people would rather complain about the library they almost lost or, much worse, attack anyone who has taken the time to find out information and nice enough to post it here.

    He’s right, though. Edgerton’s library might not be the National Archives, but at least it’s there, in town, waiting to be used. Support it or it’ll be gone the next time.

  9. Research is one thing, giving condescending advice on something he knows nothing about is something else. If he can dish it out, he should be able to take it.

  10. Freddyhusker says:

    I used to use the Edgerton Library a lot. I would enjoy reading a newspaper or a magazine and would check out movies and the occasional book. I used the adult computer when my home one was in for repairs. I even did a presentation on College Financial Aid in the Library a few years ago. However, the new hours for the Library have pretty well locked me out of it’s use. I work 8-5 in a slow week and am in Olathe on Saturday’s most weeks. The evenings were the times when I could use it and now all the evening times are gone. The changed from being open Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening a couple years ago and Tuesday was my evening in the Library. Wednesday is my night to teach Bible Study.

    About the only time i can go now is when I am on vacation. Jerry, I generally agree with you, and don’t necessarily disagree that we need to use our Library more. However, if they are not going to keep hours that people can use, the numbers will go down.

  11. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    Beginning Feb. 16, 2012, Johnson County has provided on online Budget Simulator allowing citizens to suggest how they would like to adjust the county budget to satisfy their expectations for levels of service. More details here: http://www.jocogov.org/calendar/1654/179

    Submit your recommendations for the trimming (or increasing) the 2013 Johnson County budget. The County’s goal is to reduce the overall budget by $5,802,000. The survey is at http://maps.jocogov.org/budgetsurvey/. Categories include:
    • General Government (Vehicle Tag Renewals & Titles wait times, Voting locations & wait times)
    • Health & Human Services (Child Care Licensure, Family Health Svcs, Special Employment Svcs, Mental Health Svcs, Aging Svcs, Multi-Service Ctrs)
    • Infrastructure (Snow removal, The JO bus routes & hours)
    • Public Safety & Emergency Svcs (Crisis responders, Work Release & Re-entry Prgs, Juvenile Offenders, Crime Lab)
    • Culture & Recreation (Museums & Hours, Safety & Outdoor Educ, Parks Maint & Devel, Recreation Prg Fees, Library locations, hours and collections)

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