County library representatives met with the Wetzel County Commission on Feb. 27 to thank commissioners for funds in years past, update them on library operations, and request continued funding.
Present were Janet Conn of the New Martinsville Public Library; Paden City Library Director Joanna Casto; Kathy Eastham of the Hundred Public Library Board; and Susan Riley of Moundsville Public Library, which is the service center for libraries in Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler counties. Weldon Williams of the Pine Grove Public Library Board was unable to attend the meeting.
Conn pointed out that on average, New Martinsville Public Library spends $1.09 on each person for materials such as books and newspapers. Conn added that the state average was $2.01 for resources. Conn compared this amount to buying a bag of pretzels or a candy bar at a gas station.
'This is a long-term
investment. . .
I guess, what I’m trying
to say, is that we are out there serving as much
as we can.' - Janet Conn of New Martinsville Public Library
She said she was appreciative of the funding from commissioners, but added, "We need to do better than $1.09 for every person in this room. This is a long-term investment. It's not a candy bar."
Conn added that people from out of town think about coming to the library for services, directions, and faxes. She stated that recently she has had abstractors that set up office in the library "because they say it's a nice place to work."
"I guess, what I'm trying to say," she stated, "is that we are out there serving as much as we can serve. We don't say no to anyone within a reasonable request. We definitely need the funding."
Conn confirmed that the Wetzel County Board of Education has given $4,000 to each library in the county. She stated that the four funding services for the New Martinsville Public Library are the Wetzel County Commission, the City of New Martinsville, the Wetzel County Board of Education, and the state match.
Conn stated that the New Martinsville Public Library has to match around $42,000 to receive funding from the state. Fifty percent has to be tax money.
"It's important to Pine Grove and Hundred to meet that match. We receive free garbage service from Hundred and that's it," added Eastham.
Casto stated that she has had some patrons coming in to use the library's wireless services. "They are not permanent residents, but they are coming in and staying for a while." Casto stated that the wireless users were "most gracious people and they are polite and courteous," though, "it has increased traffic and usage, and all those things require money," she said. "Libraries are free," she said, "as long as you follow the rules."
"We most recently hosted two young women from Riverquest in Pittsburgh," Conn stated. "They were going to be at the school presenting a program on Marcellus Shale, and they were wondering if they could do a program for adults." She added, "They had maps to show people. It was a most interesting discussion. It drew more men than women. They were a little more interested. It was a different group of people." Conn added that she was going to have the women back in the future.
The county's four libraries have received an increase in funding from the county commission each year. Conn reflected that the first donation she personally recalls was $1,500, and as of last year, the libraries received $5,000 each from the commission. "The commissioners have consistently raised the money," Conn stated. "We are very appreciative of that fact."