On May 21 after a meeting that saw community push back related to Wheatland County’s decision to no longer support rural libraries with CERB (Community Enhancement Regional Board) funding, the county has reversed their decision.
On April 16 the CERB board made a recommendation to the county to fund the libraries in the amount of $45,765 from the county’s library reserve..
Initially the county voted to not fund rural libraries. That would have meant a loss to the libraries in Carseland, Gleichen, Strathmore, Standard, Rosebud, Hussar and Rockyford.
The county held a special meeting for ratepayers on May 21 where they were invited to discuss library funding and make written submissions. The county council received a number of letters from the community asking for the funding to be restored.
In small communities, libraries are seen as more of an esential service and community meeting place that offers access to not just to books, but Internet, family and cultural programming, and more.
Standard Municipal Library in particular was just recognized by Marigold Library Systems for their excellence in serving the community with a Making A Difference Award for small libraries. The library is open about 900 hours a year, and offers a number of programs that include book lending, children’s programs and and free high-speed Internet.
Lori Bach Village of Standard Library Board, board chair shared her reaction to the issue.
“We were very disappointed when they voted to discontinue that funding, and then on the reversal we were very happy,” she said.
When asked about how the funding would have impacted their library, Bach could not go into specifics about the library’s finances, but she said she estimated it would have cost Standard Municipal Library somewhere between $2,000 and $2,500 a year.
“We work hard for just about every penny we get and we work on a really tight budget, we would have had to look at other fundraising options, other grants, or other areas to makeup that shortfall,” she said.
“We are extremely pleased by the decision of the Wheatland County to sustain our library funding and particularly we are pleased by the comments that we are an essential service,” said Miranda Johnson interim library director for Strathmore Municipal Library.
In closing Bach said, “Thank you to everyone who spoke out, it’s nice to see a system work where public input helps a decision.”