Editorial: Painful-but-realistic decision on library awaits Clarkdale Town Council

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VVN file photo

Clarkdale Town Council members Tuesday likely will do the very thing they would give anything to not have to do.

Up for consideration at Clarkdale’s Tuesday, 3 p.m., meeting is a recommendation from staff to close the town’s library effective June 30.

If council members agree to that recommendation, they are simply reacting to the realities of small-town budget austerity.

Equally true, but less palatable to traditionalists, is the reality of the value Clarkdale residents have placed on their library.

There is little evidence the Clark Memorial Library is a vital resource in Clarkdale. It is not the community library of choice for most of the town’s residents. Of the current 15,134 card holders at the Cottonwood Public Library, 1,140 of those patrons live in Clarkdale. By comparison, only 605 Clarkdale residents claim the Clark Memorial Library as their “home library.”

Likewise, the library’s “friends” support – an essential fund-raising arm of any small-town library – has been sadly lacking in Clarkdale. The annual book sale and ice-cream social event hardly constitute “putting your money where your mouth is” in terms of supporting your community library.

The real model for small-town library support in the Verde Valley is best found in Camp Verde. There, the Concerned Citizens for Camp Verde Library, Camp Verde Library Endowment and other benefactors raised and contributed more than $1 million for the town’s new library. With construction of the new Camp Verde Library complete, the Concerned Citizens group evolved into the Friends of Camp Verde Library, an incorporated 501c3 non-profit organization that has taken on the task of raising money for projects not funded by the town and generates about $200 a week for library operations. The Camp Verde Library Endowment group is still active and very close to its $500,000 goal as a continual growing endowment for the future of the library.

Their deeds – not their words – speak volumes about how vital a resource the library is to the Camp Verde community.

Using the same measuring stick, Clarkdale has been largely silent. The 11th-hour protests are too little and too late.

The community dealt the cards the Clarkdale Town Council now must play.

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davidp 1 year, 6 months ago

Re: "605 Clarkdale residents claim the Clark Memorial Library as their 'home library'."

Initially, the home library of Yavapai Library Network cardholders isn't "claimed," it's the library where the card is issued. You can't determine which library is patronized based on a patron's home library.

There are 132 active library users in Cottonwood whose home library is Clark Memorial. Does that mean they drive to Clarkdale to use the library?

Clarkdale's own 2014 "Community Activity Survey" of 213 households shows that 135 of those households (63.4%) have at least one member who uses Clark Memorial Library at least a few times per year. That implies that most of the 1,168 active library users in Clarkdale whose home library is Cottonwood actually use the Clark Memorial Library.

The relevant statistic for the Yavapai Library District is circulation. Over the last three fiscal years, circulation at Clark Memorial rose 44%, to 15,730. During fiscal years 13-15, circulation of children's materials rose 46%. These are some of the fastest growth rates in the Yavapai Library Network.

If Clarkdale Staff and Council truly want to keep the library open, why spend so much time and effort to portray it in a negative light?

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ItsyBitsySpider 1 year, 6 months ago

Ah, Dan, not you too! Someone at Cottonwood Library has a big mouth. It's common knowledge among libraries in the Yavapai Library Network that Cottonwood Library is counting on Clark Memorial Library's $22,000 base YLN funding, plus higher circulation revenues when Clarkdale sheeple troop to CPL's already overcrowded parking and computers. That is the bottom line. Clarkdale needs a librarian, not a new library.

But believe me, Clark Memorial Library's 1,200-plus annual patrons strongly suspect they're being sold to Cottonwood for some as yet undisclosed benefit from Cottonwood or the County. I doubt they're planning to add to Cottonwood patrons' woes. I hear some will just stop patronizing libraries—buy the books they want on-line. Most of my friends will head up the hill to Jerome's friendlier, funkier facilities—maybe form a bookmobile operation to save gas and avoid Jerome's parking problem.

That's one of the flaws in your figures, Dan: One patron can check out eight items on their card alone and pick up as many multiples of eight as they've cards in their pocket. That's why the County bases all computations on circulation and doesn't bother counting noses.

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