Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Excellent points from Connie Jo Ozinga

My comment, published in the Elkhart Truth the other day, http://www.etruth.com/Know/News/Story.aspx?id=432343 (free registration may be required.) :

At the Elkhart Public Library, director Connie Jo Ozinga said the report's proposal to create countywide library districts is intriguing but probably unattainable.

Elkhart County has six library districts, though four townships remain unserved by library service.

"I just can't imagine how we'd get from here to there," Ozinga said of consolidating the districts. "The cost to merge all those different databases and systems would be huge.

So is everybody in the Indiana public library opposed to this? Will ILF legislative be formally opposed? What little has been said on the email lists has made me think so. If so, I am dismayed. Are we automatically against change? Can we not see the “big picture”?

I do understand the small library’s concerns about the potential loss of service in their communities. I am the Director of the largest of the 6 libraries in Elkhart County, and I have no desire to be responsible for the logistics of creating a county library. Nor do I assume that I would be the Director of any such institution.

So this is my official announcement that I am neutral on the recommendations of the report. There are some positive things in the recommendations: this proposal would finally address the unserved areas issue, and address the regular accusations regarding non-elected boards with taxing authority.

I would like to see some discussion on this list about the recommendations.

I’ve also seen several statements that smaller communities would end up paying the larger library’s debt service after consolidation. This topic came up at our recent bond hearing in Indianapolis, and the DLGF made it very clear that the residents of geographic area that originally issued the bonds would continue to be the only taxpayers levied the bond rate. Potentially you could have a county library where the tax rate is different in every city/township due to the debt still owed by the now consolidated local library.

My comment about probably unattainable refers to my lack of faith that our legislature could or would ever actually implement these recommendations.

So flame me if you wish, but I am dismayed that our profession seems to have immediately acted in opposition to the recommendations.


Connie Jo Ozinga, Director cjo@elkhart.lib.in.us

(574)522-3333 www.elkhart.lib.in.us
Elkhart Public Library Elkhart, IN 46516

The Elkhart Public Library provides access to resources which inform, educate, enlighten and entertain our diverse community.....Books are just the beginning.

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