In 2016, Clarkdale’s Library Advisory Board and Parks & Recreation Departments were combined into the Clarkdale Community Services Commission. In May, the new commission was tasked by the Community Services Supervisor with prioritizing the town’s programs and events.
The final prioritization was based in large part on per-use cost of programs and events, which set the Clark Memorial Library up as a non-contender. A look through town documents suggest that result was predictable.
For years, some folks in town government (typically described as “Staff”) wanted a “Movies in the Park” program. They were thwarted by insufficient budgets. But in 2014, a survey showed that 150 of 213 Clarkdale households had an interest in additional town park activities. That survey helped justify a $13,000 purchase of outdoor cinema equipment, creatively funded with $4,000 from the library donation fund, $2,400 from the Library books and materials budget, and the rest from Parks and Recreation.
The cost of the library does not appear to be the reason that equipment is still unused. Since the county funds nearly half the library’s budget, closure could result in more Town expense for its employees currently manning the library. However, those employees could then concentrate on more highly-prioritized projects.
An ironic argument against the library is that the kids who frequent the library after school are just using the computers to play games, not to do research for school work. I’ve recently met some kids who beg to differ. But even if the argument were true, doesn’t game playing provide more mental exercise than occasionally staring at a screen on a summer night?
There are certainly folks who would enjoy a movie in the park with friends and family and would appreciate the town providing it. But replacing a library with passive entertainment is not a good trade.
If you value the Library, please make your feelings known to those who will vote on its fate, either at a Town Council meeting or by email from the town website at http://clarkdale.az.gov/council.html.