News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Editorials

February 28, 2009

TRIBUNE-STAR EDITORIAL: Putting a high value on libraries

Senate Bill 348 could benefit communities, help provide library access for all

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana should protect its existing libraries, and extend Hoosiers’ access to those powerful facilities.

Those priorities should guide legislators as they consider Senate Bill 348, which calls for all 92 counties to form a public library service planning committee.

Fortunately, that bill avoids the recommendation by the Kernan-Shepard Local Government Reform Commission to create one library district per county. To be sure, municipal and county governments need to be streamlined, and the 19th-century township system requires some overhaul. The value of each library, though, remains high.

The Senate bill could benefit communities. The county library planning committees would have to find the best method to give all residents access to library service. Currently, 400,000 Hoosiers in 38 counties have no local library access, aside from purchasing a borrowing-card in a nearby district. The Senate bill would allow small community library districts to remain independent, such as those in Parke and Vermillion counties. They could also opt to consolidate into a single countywide system. Or, in Parke County’s case, where only three of its townships have service, the planning committees could be asked to consider agreements with local schools to use their facilities as public library outlets.

The bill now moves to the Indiana House, where it could be amended, approved or dropped.

Some legislators oppose the bill, contending local people should not be forced to provide library service. Some raise legitimate concerns about funding. Those reservations are understandable, especially in a harsh economy.

Still, with property tax caps threatening libraries’ abilities to function, the law would lead to a healthy and detailed assessment of each county’s library service. The goal should be for every Hoosier — including those too young to be involved in public hearings — to be able to borrow materials at the nearest county library without an added charge.

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Editorials
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    March 23, 2014

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    March 22, 2014

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    March 14, 2014

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    March 12, 2014

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