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Good returns

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Henry County library sees rise in use

By Christopher Brooke

 

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Patrons of the Henry County Public Library who regularly check out the free materials and services can get a good return on their tax dollars, said Library Director Jessica Powell in a report at the August meeting of the Fiscal Court. 

In sharing facts from the library’s annual report for the year that ended in June, the director noted that a wide range of programs have seen increased use over the last year.

State law mandates that special taxing districts report to local government at what rate they set the tax, the librarian noted. Powell told the fiscal court that, after a long discussion, the library decided to go with the compensating rate as recommended by the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

“That will allow us to provide the same level of service and, hopefully, exactly the same budget income that we had last year,” she said.

 

A handout given to the fiscal court shared that the compensating rate for the coming year has been set at 8.6 cents per $100 value of real property, which Powell said would amount to $86 in taxes on a $100,000 house and lot.

Officials expect the compensating rate to bring in about $737,000 in revenue for the library, according to the document.

“And the reason why that service is so important…. we had over 69,000 visits to our library last year,” she said, referring to another handout with statistics about library use. “I think it’s really easy for people to forget — we’re tucked away around the corner in Eminence, but our library is there for everybody in the county, and it’s very, very well used.”

When it comes to users’ budgets, one of the ways patrons can save involves checking out DVDs from the library, she said. By borrowing 31,911 DVDs, library users saved $90,000 in rental fees. 

Redbox customers would have to pay $5 to keep a DVD over the five-day check out period that the library allows, Powell added. 

On top of that, the library circulated a little more than 40,000 books in 2013.

Sharing the benefits of the library for Henry County households, Powell said if each member of a family of four came in once a month and checked out the limit of 20 items apiece, the savings would add up.

 “That’s $19,000 of free material for what will be $86 they pay [in taxes] per $100,000 of property that you own,” Powell said. “So that’s an enormous return on investment for the people of the county.”

To show that attendance has grown for several services, Powell told fiscal court that requests for information rose 11 percent last year to 21,800; the young adult program attracted 834 attendees, a 147 percent increase from 2013; and programs for elementary aged children saw attendance of 5,691, a 278 percent annual increase.

“The thing that I am most proud of, our young adult program and elementary school age program, our attendance… has just been through the roof for the last year,” Powell said.

She credited children’s librarian Suzanne Banta, whom she called “a force of nature in this county.”

“She has given so much of her life this summer,” Powell said about Banta. “She’s completely dedicated. She had no vacation time — when the rest of us were off taking vacations, she was leading our summer reading program. I think it’s really appropriate to thank her, as well. She makes this an enormous success.”

Young adult services include an after-school teen book club, as well as a teen advisory group that has the task of finding ways to bring in more of their peers, Powell said. “I should say there aren’t a lot of after-school activities in this county for the kids to participate in, if they’re not really into sports. And especially in winter, there’s nothing to do.”

Many programs for adults include how to use technology.

Judge-Executive John Logan Brent thanked Powell for the library increasing their presence in the community by attending many of the festivals around the county. 

Powell noted that staff set up booths at four of the festivals this year, like Eminence Day and Campbellsburg Day.

“We love to do it,” she said. It’s great to get out into the community,” she said. 

After the meeting, Powell told the Henry County Local that the library has plans to expand its hours beyond 5 p.m. on more days.

Beginning Sept. 15, the library will stay open until 8 p.m. to better accommodate the community, she said. 

This is necessary because so many people can’t make it before 5 p.m. because of their work and their commute.