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Letter: More state funding sought for regional public libraries

An important piece of legislation is before the Minnesota Legislature concerning libraries. For the first time since 1992, the Legislature is considering increasing the annual contribution to the regional library systems in Minnesota from $8.57 m...

An important piece of legislation is before the Minnesota Legislature concerning libraries. For the first time since 1992, the Legislature is considering increasing the annual contribution to the regional library systems in Minnesota from $8.57 million per year to $13.57 million per year for each of the next several years.

Having formerly served for many years on the Kitchigami Regional Library Board as Bemidji Library Board representative, I understand the frustration and concern by local residents with the reduction in hours and services which our local library has experienced. There has been considerable criticism of the contributions by county, city and the Kitchigami system to this problem. However, missing from much of this debate has been a failure to consider that the state has not increased its contribution toward the operation of the regional library system since 1992.

After all, it was the state that really pushed local cities to join the regional library system with a promise of increased efficiency and funding for the operation of this support system for local libraries. I would urge patrons and users of the library to contact their legislators to support this long overdue increase in funding for the operation of the regional library system.

While House File 319 and Senate File 623 appear to be moving forward, it is important that our legislators not let this significant assistance for the libraries get lost in the wheeling and dealing of the appropriations process in the final weeks of the legislative session.

Douglas P. Johnson

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Member

Bemidji Library Board

Bemidji

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