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Jolaina Cramer's Fundraiser:

Save The Ronan City Library

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Jolaina Cramer

THE STORY:

We have had severe budgetary cuts in the past few years and we are still in danger of closing the doors to our much needed library. Our current funding only goes through the end of June. We do not know about the next fiscal year just yet. If we do not get the funding needed to stay open this next fiscal year, even if the voters say yes to us being a district, we could still end up closing our doors until November. This is what we do not want to happen. So we are seeking help from our community members and those around us to help us so that we will not have to close our doors. Thank you!

This was the last article in The Valley Journal -----

Lake County Commissioners passed a resolution last week allowing for a ballot vote on the creation of a new library district in Ronan. Registered voters living within Ronan-Pablo School District No. 30 will vote on the measure sometime this spring or summer.

In the face of a massive recession, the City of Ronan was forced to cut library funding from around $51,000 in 2007 to $17,000 this year.

According to library employees and board members, it is nearly impossible to run a library when funds have diminished at such a rapid rate. With this in mind, library employees and board members began the process of creating a new library district in Ronan to help fund the library and ensure its existence for years to come.

According to a presentation given by Ronan Library Director Michelle Fenger, the library’s roots date back to 1914 with a group of citizens who wanted to share their love of books with the community.

The library became official in 1940 and has provided local residents with services, programs, materials, media and information regarding personal, educational, cultural and professional needs ever since.

“The library hopes to function as a link to improved futures, especially for the young and disadvantaged,” the presentation read. “The library serves as a learning and educational center for all residents of the service population area in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.”

During a public hearing on the matter, 28 local residents filled the commissioners’ office in a surprising show of support for the new district. According to Fenger, every single resident in attendance was there to show support.

“It felt wonderful,” Fenger said. “It was nice to know that there was such great community support out there for the library ... quite a few people stood up and expressed their support, saying they wouldn’t mind paying taxes to help keep the library open.”

Fenger said she believes libraries are vital to communities, particularly in low-income areas.

The library offers services including books, movies, audio books, print and online encyclopedias, photocopying, magazines, newspapers, weekly story time for children ages 3-5, a summer reading program in collaboration with the D’arcy McNickle Library at Salish Kootenai College, wireless Internet access and 13 computers available to the public.

In 2012 alone, the summer reading program had about 350 participants logging about 7,000 hours of reading.

“I believe libraries are extremely important to communities, especially in an area that is not extremely wealthy,” Fenger said, adding that the library provides local residents with access to help with writing resumes, filling out Social Security information, doing homework and helping with taxes. “Studies prove that if children continue reading through the summer, it keeps their education levels up, so I think public libraries provide a great way to give them a place to go.”

Board member Jolaina Cramer said she was excited about the prospect of a new library district, as it would mean the library could expand the already popular programs, remain open longer, hire new employees (presently, Fenger is the only full-time employee) and, in general, better serve the community.

“It’s huge for a community this small to have a library,” Cramer said. “A lot of people who move into new areas or are looking to move, that’s one of the things they look for — a library.”

Fenger and Cramer thanked residents for their show of support and asked them to vote “yes” when the ballots are cast.

“Don’t let your library die,” Fenger said. “It’s a very important part of a thriving community, and if you have any suggestions for how we can improve our services, please contact us and let us know.”

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