My thanks to the VI for stressing Clark Memorial Library’s need for an independent library support group in the May 20 editorial on Clarkdale Town Council’s pending decision to renew the Yavapai County Library Network contract.
Every library does need its own Friends group to raise funds for materials and programs the community needs, but the government can’t finance. Every librarian needs dedicated volunteers to help with in-library tasks and to manage volunteer library promotion and fundraising efforts. It’s near certain that had such a group been formed when CML moved into its present location in 1992, CML wouldn’t have been 7 years without a librarian and the Council wouldn’t be facing this painful decision.
Also, the editorial’s implication that a functioning Friends group doesn’t materialize overnight is spot on. Three months isn’t even enough time to inform residents they’re in dire need of such a group. I’m three-quarters of the way through canvasing Clarkdale households, and I’m still meeting regular patrons who had no idea their library has problems.
However, I wish the editorial had mentioned a few equally relevant details. CML’s financial and personnel problems not withstanding, by Yavapai County Free Library District criteria, CML is a highly performing library. Far from underused, its 44% circulation growth over the last three years is one of the highest in the County. The District Director cannot fathom why anyone wants to close it. Some 1200 patrons annually speaks well of a town of just over 4,000 residents.
CML is more like Jerome’s Library than Camp Verde’s. Although contractors would love to build a grand new multi-million dollar edifice, for that, we need more residents.
I also wish the editorial had stressed that the Camp Verde Library evolved at need over six decades, always had a library manager, and when fundraising faltered, the town manager hired a professional, Masters-level librarian to rally the benefactors. Likewise, starting with a $20,000 bequest to the library, the CV Library Endowment Group required 18 years to come within sight of their $500,000 goal.
I’d say citizen tenacity and committed town officials are the lesson CML advocates should hear in Camp Verde’s achievement.