Library Reimbursement Program Discontinued
It All Comes Back To Failed Levies
Voters may (or may not) remember a levy proposed back in August of 2011 that was put on the ballot to help support the Libraries of Stevens County. Unfortunately, that levy failed, and as a result, many cuts have been made to the affected libraries. According to Amanda Six, Director of Stevens County Libraries, in order to use the county library resources most efficiently, three staff positions were cut, library branch hours were reduced, the book budget was cut, and special programs were eliminated.
One of the eliminated programs that affected many local residents was the library card reimbursement payment for those people living in south Stevens County who have a Deer Park zip code. Those citizens typically use the Deer Park library, as it is closest to them, however, since they are not Spokane County residents, they are charged a $100 fee by the Spokane County library system. Prior to the levy failure, this $100 fee was reimbursed back to those Stevens County residents by the Stevens County Libraries.
The card reimbursement cuts took effect in January of this year, since the levy failed in 2011. There were 120 Stevens County residents with a Deer Park zip code who were receiving the $100 card reimbursement payment for using the Spokane County Library in Deer Park. According to Director Six, this was a special benefit for a select group of Stevens County residents and was costing the library system an extra $12,000 a year. People who live in other nearby zip codes, such as Clayton or Nine Mile Falls, were not getting reimbursed, and this was a source of frustration for those residents. “One of the positive outcomes of this change is that now all residents in the county will be treated equally,” she said.
The Libraries of Stevens County charges a $90 fee for all out-of-county residents, but this does not cover the costs of reimbursement for their own residents who use libraries in other nearby counties. The Stevens County library district has run two levies in the last few years, and both have failed. “In this climate of current budget restraints, it will be unlikely Stevens County Libraries will be able to reinstate the card reimbursements,” Director Six said.
Stevens County residents may use the Spokane County Library’s on-site resources and computers for free, but they are not able to check out any books without purchasing a card. This is good news for students and families who use the library for access to the Internet. Additionally, families are able to get library cards for all members of their household by paying an annual fee of $104.
“I understand this is an inconvenient change for many families, and like all the other cuts we’ve had to make that impact our patrons, it was not an easy decision for the staff or the board,” said Director Six. “Cutting hours at five of our branches has not been easy for some families who relied on later hours to come to their library, and cutting the book budget means fewer materials for everyone,” she continued.
If the $104 fee is too high for some Stevens County residents, then the alternative is to visit a local Library of Stevens County branch in person or on-line and request an “inter-library loan.” There is no charge for requesting an inter-library book loan. If Stevens County cannot find the book through another library anywhere in the United States, they will purchase the book for residents to check out. Once the requested book has arrived at the library branch, the library will call or e-mail the patron to let them know the book has arrived. There is a library drop off box at the Clayton Burger to make returning books more convenient.
“We encourage those families who used to get card reimbursements in Deer Park to visit a library in Stevens County. Loon Lake and Lakeside are the closest locations, but a card allows you to use any library in Stevens County,” Director Six concluded.
Stevens County residents may be rural and spread out, but they do have access to any book anywhere in the United States, thanks to the county library system! Levies support local libraries, and residents who vote yes on these special levies will be doing their part to keep the library system a vital part of the community.
All of the library branches in Stevens County offer high-speed Internet and friendly service. Questions about services can be e-mailed to Stevens County Library Director Amanda Six at Amanda@scrld.org. Visit the Libraries of Stevens County website at www.thelosc.org, and check out what they have to offer.