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Be a friend of the Friends

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Editorial: June 28, 2013

By Sarah Reddoch

ISSUE: Friends of Hardin County Public Library
OUR VIEW: Deserves public support

Would you like to leave a lasting legacy? Empower a dreamer to become an entrepreneur? Encourage someone to learn something and chart a new course in life?

If so, there’s a new group you should consider joining: Friends of the Hardin County Public Library.

Libraries make all those things possible, mostly without cost to patrons.

Like all Kentucky libraries, Hardin County’s is enjoying a surge in use.

And like all libraries, Hardin County’s offers programs for adults, teens and children. It lends a variety of materials — traditional books, e-books, music and movies. It provides periodicals and PCs. Inside, patrons can learn everything from how to use a computer mouse to how to retile a bathroom. They can explore the world and even outer space through the written word.   

But one thing separates the local library from most other public libraries in Kentucky: It is not supported by a local library tax. The majority of its revenue comes from county government and the new coalition aims to keep it that way but wants to find other resources to enrich the library, and by extension, the lives of its patrons.

Although a number of recent economic rankings show Hardin County is growing, library revenue per capita is falling. Between 2009 and 2011, the county fell from 111th place to 112th in that ranking. For the public library in Kentucky’s sixth most populous county — the main branch of which is in the state’s 10th largest city — that’s shameful.

The newly formed group wants to provide support to the library by bringing in volunteers and findings ways to raise money to support the library and its programs, all without a tax.

Fiscal Court can’t be expected to provide the type of library this community should have out of general revenue. It’s time the public steps up by showing its support with effort and money.

Turnout at the group’s initial meetings has been encouraging. Participants recognize the great things taking place in the local branches and want to enhance it in a way that keeps taxes low but also provides a great resource.

The group, which next meets at 7 p.m. July 25 at Nolin RECC’s building on Ring Road, expects to have bylaws in place in coming weeks and to qualify as a nonprofit tax-exempt organization. Doing so means the financial support it generates also will benefit donors by providing a tax-deduction.

Libraries are more than book repositories — they are an ever-evolving gateway to the world. Without more resources, that gate will be closed. By supporting the library, Friends members, individually and collectively, will change lives.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.