Sunday, December 14, 2008

Library SYSTEM, not funding, half the problem

Yes, libraries in Lancaster County are disgracefully under funded, often run down, and unable to provide adequate education and recreation as compared to the rest of the country.

But there is a second side to the problem.

According to the Dec. 14 Sunday News article too cutely headed "Book bound by budget tightening", System executive director Susan Hauer justifies half of the money provided by the state and county being consumed by the System "because members libraries had counseled the library system to spend the additional funds on upgrades that would make the system and the services it provides more efficient."


Prior to the misbegotten creation of the now bloated System, most of the same services were provided by one of its members, the Lancaster Public Library (Duke Street), at a fraction of the current expense. But other independent libraries felt they were being paid too much. So the System was created.

Little wonder that Hauer, who gets paid more than the mayor of Lancaster and the county commissioners, tries to justify its disproportionate consumption of library funds.

With sixteen different libraries, the county has a (small 's') library system that is irreparably fragmented, with each entity vying with the others for a portion of the crumbs off of the (big S) System's table. For the most part, their independent boards of trustees are made up of typical citizens rather than business or community leaders, and they are unqualified and hesitant to speak out against Hauer.

Sixteen independent libraries under the thumb of the System they have created will never be able to efficiently serve the citizenry.

It is time for the commissioners to investigate what has taken place and to encourage consolidation of all libraries into one county authority. Then a blue ribbon single board of trustees will be able to both raise funds and make certain that they are properly utilized.