While St. Mary’s County libraries are the busiest in the region, librarians are working to accommodate the community with more services and resources, a new building in Leonardtown and the potential for fine-free library cards for all.

2020欧联杯预测Micheal Blackwell, library director, briefed the county commissioners on updates and community impacts at Tuesday’s meeting.

The annual report for the St. Mary’s County Library revealed that 1,306,358 items were checked out within fiscal 2019, equaling about 12 items per person in St. Mary’s. With 35,322 card users, about a third of the county has a library card.

“If you take our total tax revenue from the county and the state and divide it by the number of residents, each resident is paying about $28.50 per person to use the library,” Blackwell told the commissioners. “For every $1 put into the library, over $6.50 comes back to the citizens.”

2020欧联杯预测More than 100,000 digital items were also checked out in fiscal 2019, including ebooks, audiobooks and graphic novels, which are accessible 24/7 from a phone or computer.

2020欧联杯预测Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R) pointed out the busyness of the Leonardtown branch at its current location, and Blackwell told him a new facility will be open off Leonard’s Grant Parkway next to the new Garvey Senior Activity Center on April 28, as carpet is now being installed.

Blackwell said that the Lexington Park library is the busiest in Southern Maryland, with the Leonardtown library being the second busiest.

“We circulate 30% more materials than Calvert and 70% more than Charles, despite the huge number of people that they have,” he said, adding, “our libraries are heavily used.”

This week’s presentation had a much more congenial feel than recent past meetings between the commissioners and library administrators, especially after the commissioners pulled thousands of dollars from the library’s budget after outside groups successfully reserved space at the Lexington Park branch for a drag queen story hour last summer. That money, which supposedly was taken to reimburse the St. Mary’s sheriff’s office for security at the event, was eventually returned to the library after community outcry.

2020欧联杯预测Blackwell this week focused on new opportunities for community to embrace local libraries.

2020欧联杯预测“You might have heard this from the school board meeting last week, we’ve agreed to enter into a partnership with the public schools,” providing every public school student with the opportunity to get a free “kids card,” which can be used to check out up to five items and have no fines for late returns, Blackwell said.

2020欧联杯预测He assured the commissioners that items do still come back, but the program stops blocks on cards. The kid cards are scheduled to be introduced next school year and parents will have the option to opt-out if they do not want their child to have a card.

Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) mentioned proposed legislation moving through Annapolis which would stop fines for books that are overdue for kids 18 and younger.

2020欧联杯预测“What is our library’s policy relative to fines and returning books for kids under the age of 18?” Morgan asked.

Blackwell responded that the libraries are “ahead of the curve” as there are no fines on children’s materials because they do not want “money to be a block for anyone using the library when they’re young for educational purposes.” He said legislators want to make this true for the whole state and efforts to work toward a fine-free card are being made.

2020欧联杯预测“It seems like more of a socioeconomic issue that you’re dealing with when it comes down to it,” Commissioner John O’ Connor (R) said. “How come you wouldn’t move on [fine-free cards] swifter than waiting? Are you using the fines to structure the library?”

2020欧联杯预测Blackwell said yes, that last year the libraries received about $72,000 in fines.

“We see that fines are declining over time. … We simply want to look at when we think its a good budget choice for us to go completely fine free,” he said, mentioning that it could be possible within three years.

O’Connor asked about implementing a waiver program in the meantime to work up to fine-free cards, with Blackwell claiming that they already have such a program in place, as well as fine-forgiveness. The library is also willing to negotiate with people who have fines that may be preventing them from using their cards to check out items.

2020欧联杯预测“I’ve just never viewed the library as ever being an enterprise fund … if you can encourage usership and come up with something I think that’s great,” O’Connor said.

2020欧联杯预测“We’re working on it, thank you so much,” Blackwell said.

Twitter: @MadisonEntNews

2020欧联杯预测Twitter: @MadisonEntNews