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Library needs support of city, county boards

Both the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors and the BrookhavenBoard of Aldermen are now considering how much — if any — fundsthey will contribute to the Lincoln County Regional Library in thenext fiscal year.

The library has an annual operating budget of about $600,000. Ofthe amounts contributed locally, the county has been asked toprovide $170,000, a $15,000 over last year’s amount. The city hasbeen asked for $85,000, a $7,000 increase over last year.

The supervisors have already ‘stepped up to bat’ for thelibrary. Last year the board approved a $500,000 bond issue tomatch a $500,000 grant from the Mississippi Library Commission tofinance the improvements now being made at the library. The bondpayments will be about $94,000 a year for the next 10 years. Whenthe work is finished, the library will have a new children’s area,an elevator, upgraded entrances and additional space for books. Weare glad the supervisors recognize the benefits the library has forBrookhaven and Lincoln County.

Both the county and the city are working with tight budgets thisyear, but hopefully both boards will be able to meet the library’srequests, which library trustees say are “bare bones.” Theadditional amounts are just what is needed to help buy somedesperately-need new computers and other equipment and add apart-time employee that’s needed due to the expansion. Like thecity and the county, the library has also had to deal with risingutility costs.

A good library — just like good schools and good medical care– help make up the very heart and soul of any community. TheLincoln County Regional Library serves approximately 4,000 patronsa month. That’s why we’re baffled at Ward Three Alderman JerryWilson’s idea — raised at last week’s board meeting — that thecity not contribute funds to the library or other organizations.The money, Wilson maintains, would be better spent on pay raisesfor city workers.

We respectively have to disagree.

Our library is an investment in our cultural future — a futurethat touches young and old, rich and poor, black and white. Withthe spending spree the city has been on in the last few years,there are undoubtedly some budget areas that could use a very sharppencil. The library is not one of those areas.