Perhaps Edgerton residents should be grateful the Johnson County Library board restored $19,000 of funding to keep the town library open.
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.
“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