Lee County libraries seek $4,500 from county board for technology upgrades, continuing regional cooperation [The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa]
(Hawk Eye, The (Burlington, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 23--FORT MADISON -- Lee County's librarians are asking for $4,500 more from the county in 2014 to better pool limited resources and to meet the changing needs of customers.
The librarians, who attended as a group, made their budget request for the next fiscal year and presented their annual report to the Lee County Board of Supervisors during a meeting Tuesday morning.
The total budget request from the county is $64,500. The additional $4,500 represents a 40-cent per capita increase.
The librarians told the board they would use $3,500 of additional funds to better pool resources by offering new titles on a quarterly basis at each of the libraries through a DVD rotation program and to expand adult and youth programs.
Sarah Clendineng, Fort Madison Public Library director, said the libraries offer popular programming at each location but don't have enough resources to continue beyond the summer months.
"We can bring in really great performers at a discount," Clendineng said.
The remaining $1,000 will help maintain and upgrade equipment as needed.
The librarians said as more services move online, they have more maintenance and replacement needs.
Clendineng said, for example, the Iowa Department of Revenue will not send tax forms to libraries as it aims to encourage people to e-file tax returns.
The librarians also said some people access their paychecks online now, as well as work schedules.
The mention of technology upgrades led Lee County Board Chairman Rick Larkin to ask the librarians how they've been affected by serving as virtual access points after the closure of one of the Iowa Workforce Development offices in Lee County.
The librarians said while they may have been offered additional computers, only Keokuk Public Library had the space for a new computer specifically for job searches through IWD's access point. They said, though, they were not reimbursed for any additional Internet costs nor for the time it takes to walk customers through the software program.
"We're a one-person-on-the-desk library, but we do go over and help people," Brenda Knox, Donnellson Public Library director, said. "Now, with the e-file, we're going to be super busy."
While the annual report does not specifically track which customers use online job seeking services, Clendineng said she believes more people have been utilizing the services, both through the IWD access point and online at libraries.
Clendineng said the State Library of Iowa received funding from IWD beginning to provide practice tests for all levels of learning through a program called Learning Express Library. The program already is running on West Point Public Library's website, and there are plans to roll it out in the rest of the county's libraries.
Supervisor Gary Folluo thanked the librarians for stepping up and providing a "wonderful service" when workforce development closed the Keokuk office.
"We still have people come up and try to get into the business that is there now instead of workforce development," said Folluo, whose office is next door to the former IWD office. "I know it's been a strain for all of the players involved with workforce development."
He said he would prefer, however, to see the state remedy the loss of offices.
Separately during the meeting, Folluo clarified the Revitalize Iowa's Sound Economy, or RISE, grant, which the board authorized application last week, would only connect 190th Street to 180th Street and make improvements.
If approved, the grant would not fund an overpass of the BNSF Railway tracks.
The board, however, is encouraging that the Iowa Fertilizer Co., which would fund the county's share of the grant match, also put in the flyover, beyond the improvements.
(c)2013 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)
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