The Elkin Public Library is requesting the same amount of financial support from town officials as it received in the 2015-16 fiscal year, but will asking for an increased amount from the county commissioners.
For the 2016-17 fiscal year, the library is requesting $85,868 from the town of Elkin, the same amount provided as a special allocation this year, according to Martha Smith, branch librarian of the Elkin facility.
The library plans to request $120,988 from Surry County government officials, an increase of $5,021 over the 2015-16 allocation of $115,967, she said. The increased request is needed to cover a 1.5-percent cost-of-living increase, with library staff not seeing an increase in pay since 2014; an increase in health insurance premiums; funding for e-books; and a 20-percent increase in telecommunication expenses, which come from decreased funding for that line item from federal funds.
“I want to come say thank you for your partnership with the library and I hope it continues for many years,” Smith told town commissioners during last Monday’s board meeting. “We couldn’t do the service to the public without your financial gift.”
For the 2014-15 year, Smith said the Elkin library served 38,000 visitors; circulated 51,000 items; provided 15,000 public computer sessions; held 370 programs; and saw 7,800 people attend those programs.
“Our challenge is to keep the public library (relevant), working to maintain it as a place of community and keep services fresh and unique,” she said.
The library provides more than print books for the public. It also offers DVDs, audio books, graphic and animated novels, and e-books.
In addition to reading materials, Smith shared the many ways the library is serving the Elkin community, including free access to online resources such as ancestry.com and Digital NC. Also, NC LIVE, funded by the N.C. General Assembly, provides users access to about 18,000 journals, newspapers, encyclopedias and much more, as well as 170,000 more e-books and instruction in foreign languages and career search assistance, she reported.
Through the participation of the Northwest Regional Library system in NC Cardinal, the Elkin library, as well as other NWRL facilities, allows users to borrow more than 5 million items from other participating library systems in the state at no charge, said Smith.
Other free services at the library include free wireless internet connection, proctoring for college students taking exams, faxing and scanning.
“One any given afternoon, you will see children being tutored and playing on non-internet computers learning education-based information,” Smith said.
Numerous civic organizations use the library’s multipurpose rooms for meetings throughout the year, and Smith said this year a free tax return assistance program through the IRS for low-income residents served double the number of clients as last year, completing 51 tax returns.
“Family programs are fun to host. We have Light Up Night stuff with volunteers holding three puppet shows and gingerbread cookie decorating,” she said. “We have book clubs for teenagers and adults, with four book discussions for adults to accommodate different interests and times.”
Summer reading programs are held each year as well, with this year’s theme being “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read,” focusing on exercise. Also, the library staff visits 150 children a week at area preschools to share reading time and visits a local home for elderly.
The Friends of Elkin Public Library has been fundraising for library programs since 1964, Smith said, allowing the library to take programs to the Elkin City Schools and funding other needs and programs at the library.
“The Storybook Character Breakfast was the biggest and most well attended we’ve had yet,” she said of the recent fundraiser.
Other fundraisers include the book sale on Pumpkin Festival weekend each year, and Elkin business Tampco was a platinum sponsor for the NWRL’s Ride for Readers last year.
Elkin’s library has been in operation since 1937, said Smith.
Commissioner Dr. Skip Whitman, who has been serving on the library board, said being on the board “has been eye opening to me.”
He thanked Smith for making the presentation Monday so all of the commissioners could see everything the library offers the community.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.