"I get concerned when it comes across sounding like this has been a one-way street," he said. "The fact of the matter is, we've been an arm -- an ancillary if you will -- for the Board of Education in our efforts."
Board member Becky Jordon voiced her concerns with the current cap on the school excess levy and how it will hinder future income. Library officials have voiced interest in the school board promoting a separate levy to support library services as an attempt to recover the money through tax dollars.
"Yes, we need that $3 million, but we need you, too," Jordon told library representatives Monday. "I don't want our library doors to shut. I can't say we support education, and then not support libraries. I don't know how we're going to do it."
Board member Jim Crawford said he "doesn't have a problem with" collaborating with library officials to find a way for everyone to have some funding.
Board President Pete Thaw said he was willing to "take some steps to alleviate the library's situation," but stood behind the Supreme Court decision and recommended the library look to the Legislature for help instead.
"I am not unsympathetic to the library's situation. However, it is not the responsibility of this board to alleviate your financial problems," he said. "We now have spent $270,911 in legal fees on two court cases against you, and we won both of them.
"Each time, people want us to walk away after we win, and I am adamantly opposed to walking away from this one," he said. "I am willing to work with you, but I'm not willing to stick it to the taxpayers."
More than 60 percent of the library's budget is made up of personnel costs. Thaw compiled a list of library administrators' salaries for the board, with director Alan Engelbert at the top of the list, making $100,000.
Thaw also showed that the amount the school board has paid the library during the past 15 years has increased by more than $1.2 million.
Duerring urged board members to remember that the looming budget deficit is mostly because of cutbacks they can't control, and that there will be a deficit regardless of whether they stop funding the library.
"That will lessen the blow, but we're still heading that way," he said. "Even if you kept that money, you're still going to have a deficit because there's still not enough revenue coming in. We've been accustomed to think it's business as usual, but we've hit a wall. We're there. We have two paths to take: look for additional revenues or make cuts."
Albert said he's optimistic about the two boards' relationship going forward to find a solution.
"The most positive thing that came out of this is a willingness of the library and the board of education to sit down and see what we can do with the problem," he said. "We hope we can work with the board to establish a continuing and long-range arrangement going forward so we can continue serving the educational needs of students in Kanawha County."Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.