UPDATE: Kanawha School Board Agrees to Give Library $1.9M

By: Jennifer Rizz; The Associated Press Email
By: Jennifer Rizz; The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 4/19/13 @ 10:40 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The Kanawha County school board is contributing more than $1.9 million to help support the Kanawha County Public Library through July 1.

The school board on Thursday also voted to pursue an excess levy in November on behalf of the library that would bring in taxpayers' dollars to support library services past that date.

The Associated Press that library officials told the board that the funding would be enough to keep all of the library's branches open, but "it would be tight."

The West Virginia Supreme Court in February freed the school board from allocating part of its annual budget to fund the library. The decision ended a decade-long legal battle against being forced to give millions each year to the library.

UPDATE 3/21/13 @ 11 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Kanawha County board of education voted to discontinue funding the Kanawha County library Thursday.

That will go into effect beginning next fiscal year which starts July 1.

This comes after the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the board no longer had to provide funding to the library.

The district is lending a helping hand to make up some of the difference.

Superintendent Ron Duerring will meet with library officials over the next month to brainstorm fundraising ideas.

UPDATE 3/4/13 @ 11:50 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The battle over buying books continued Monday night as the Kanawha County Board of Education met to discuss the public library system's future.

The state Supreme Court ruled last month that the board is no longer required to keep providing millions of dollars each year for the library budget.

But now some board members are questioning whether that move is really what's best for the community, and they're looking at continuing to contribute.

"I think in the end, as reasonable people, we can reason together and find a path that we all can follow," board member Bill Raglin said. "But we're dealing with a financial situation of our own."

The board has projected problems during the next two years, partly due to inflation and a capped excess levy. That makes board President Pete Thaw argue they need to hold on to every penny.

"We don't represent the library, " he said. "We represent the people of Kanawha County as it relates to the board of education."

Karan Ireland is a parent who takes her kids to the frequently and says it made a huge difference in their development.

"It helped them get excited about reading, books and knowledge," she said. "I believe that libraries and education go hand-in-hand and should have a symbiotic relationship."

Ireland says she just wants to make sure the library doors remain open.

"As I child I spent hours reading and learning, and I hope that it continues to be there for my own kids," she said.

Library officials say they've already put a freeze on hiring and canceled several subscriptions to research databases to save money.

The school board did not yet make any final decisions about continuing the funding.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- People reading and learning from thousands of books -- it’s a pastime that could be in danger at the Kanawha County Public Library.

"I think a library like this one is a cultural and intellectual landmark for the community," said Richie Robb, a frequent visitor to the library.

Following a state Supreme Court ruling last week, the Kanawha County Board of Education pulled nearly $3 million it provided to the public library’s budget.

"If we lose 40 percent of our budget, it's going to be very significant. It's going to be very serious, and there's no way around that," Kanawha County Public Library Director Alan Engelbert said.

The city of Charleston and the Kanawha County Commission provide the other 60 percent of the library’s budget, and they say they’re going to keep giving that money.

"The Kanawha County Board of Education has sent a message that -- in fact, I think they referred to the library system as a parasite -- I can't disagree with that more," Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said.

The library says they will approach the legislature and enter into talks with the BOE to see if they will voluntarily help with the funding. But if that fails, they could be forced to go with a last resort.

"That could result in closing facilities, layoffs, furloughs, significant reduction in materials, purchases -- pretty much everything we do would be affected in one way or another," Engelbert said.

"It'll reduce the quality of my life, and I think it'll reduce the quality of life for the community at large,” Robb said.

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