The Crawford County Library Board will be looking at ways to increase county library system revenue.
During a discussion on budget issues in a special meeting Monday, the board decided to look into what it would take to run a campaign not only to inform the public about what services the library system offers, but also to start exploring the possibility of how it can increase the library system’s income.
Jami Ann Balkman, chairman of the board, said the library system’s selection of services has vastly expanded over the last five years.
“We’ve got to look at some way to increase our current income before we can continue to expand those services for our communities, and we want to do that,” Balkman said. “We want to continue to support our communities in various ways, and so we want to look at that.”
The board also needs to look at how it is compensating library system employees, Balkman said. While many of these employees are highly educated and very devoted, the board has difficulty every year giving them even a cost of living pay increase. The board wants to be able to do that, but it must be fiscally responsible at the same time.
Balkman said the board is looking at the possibility of a millage increase, as well as considering other options such as a sales tax with a sunset.
“Of course, we’ve been looking at how we can cut our expenses in the library for things that we no longer use as frequently as we once did. So we’re trying to be proactive both directions: how can we save money, but at the same time, how can we increase what we’re bringing in to support our libraries,” Balkman said.
Crawford County Library System Director Eva White said the library system has not asked for a millage increase since 1998.
Balkman said over the last five years, there has been a dramatic growth in what the system offers in terms of electronic services, such as eBooks, eReaders and subscriptions to various informational databases.
“We have quite a few more of those programs, but we also have increased our classes,” Balkman said. “We do art camps, we do music camps, we do all kinds.”
Previously, Balkman said, the system mostly had story time in terms of children’s programming. Now, however, the calendars for any of the libraries in the system feature four to 10 programs per week for children ranging from preschoolers to teenagers.
“There are health programs for adults,” Balkman said. “There are activities for seniors. There is something for everybody at our libraries.”
Among the examples Balkman provided were yoga, sewing, scrapbooking and cooking classes. The library board wants to continue to provide these services and others.
The board also discussed letting White look at what it would take to fund a 3 percent pay raise for all library system employees.