Library asks for security system funds

By Julie Fann
star staff

On Monday, The Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library presented a budget appropriations increase request of $8,000 from the county for fiscal year 2003-04, the largest petition of any other non-profit organization. Most of that amount will hopefully result in the installation of a new security system for the library's historical archives room.
   "We're asking them to cover 65 percent of the cost, and we arrived at that percentage because 65 percent of our library users live outside the city limits," said Joyce White, library director, on Wednesday. "Last fiscal year, we asked for $35,000 in county appropriations, and this year we're asking for $43,000."
   County government funds slightly more than 10 percent of the library's operational budget; the remainder is generated from city and state funds. For the current fiscal year, the total operating budget was $339,548.
   Due to tight economic times, most non-profit groups kept increased appropriations petitions to a minimum. White had no idea that when she asked for an $8,000 increase, the amount would be the highest sum requested.
   "We felt it was our responsibility to ask the county for what we need. We're aware that the economy is in a tough spot on every governmental level, and the library board discussed it at length before reaching a decision," she said.
   In recent years, White said some material has disappeared from the historical archives room, and petty vandalism has resulted in damaged walls. Since then, library workers habitually lock the door to the room to prevent more occurrences.
   Employees also transferred some important books from shelves to a workroom. However, space is limited for storage, and moving more would render the room useless.
   "What is important is not so much the monetary value of the material that disappeared, but the fact that, once that historical information is gone, it is lost indefinitely and is no longer accessible to library users or employees.
   "We want to get a security system in place before something serious occurs," White said.
   The new security system would be similar to those installed in retail outlets in malls. Items would be tagged, and the system would target them and notify authorities.
   The library requested $7,500 from the county to go toward the cost of the new system. The remaining $500 is designated to fund the purchase of new books and other necessary materials.