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First City Library Costs
by Robert D. Warner


April 18, 2005

At a recent School Board meeting, there was discussion about First City Libraries and how much it costs the Ketchikan School District.  I was shocked to learn that the District pays about $32,000 to $36,000 per year for this service.  After this is paid there is little money left over to buy library books and building supplies.
Years ago a school librarian warned that if the Ketchikan School District joined First City Libraries, it would be forced to fund this cost every year by reducing library book and personnel budgets.  This also placed the District in the awkward position of allowing Ketchikan Public Library administration determine how much it pays rather than the School Board.
I should add that a major problem with libraries in this community is that local library funding has been out of balance for many years.  Ketchikan Public Library is overfunded while local school libraries are underfunded. Why does the public library have plenty of staff, while school library staffs are small and face potential layoffs almost every year?  With the city library administration able to determine how much the School District (and University) pay for First City Libraries, the issues are compounded.
The lion's share of funding for FCL should be paid by the Ketchikan Public Library even if they must layoff staff and a reduce their book budget.  My recommendation would be that the Ketchikan School District pay no more than 10 percent of the FCL annual budget;  the Ketchikan Public Library should pay at least 80 percent of the cost.  This is justified because the main mission of First City Libraries is a public library function and responsibility.  FCL is a very poor data base for college students and faculty.  While it may have some limited value to the high school,  both the School District and the University are clearly coming out on the short end with these current arrangements.
I strongly urge that the Ketchikan School District reduce its First City Libraries payment to no more than $10,000 each year and shift the savings to buying more library books and school supplies.
Robert D. Warner
Ketchikan, Ak 99901-5738


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