People who attended programs for adults and young adults
Monthly requests filled for teachers who need special collections for their classrooms.CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Thursday evening, the Kanawha County Board of Education is scheduled to consider funding for the Kanawha County Public Library system. It will also determine how current school board members will be remembered.
The school board asked for and got the court ruling it wanted: that the board is not required to fund the county library.
So, now what?
Several school board members have said repeatedly that the public library is a valuable part of education. Will a majority of school board members show they mean it by continuing to fund the public library in a substantial way?
The school board agreed to support the library at the current level through the end of the fiscal year on June 30, a responsible approach.
The next question is how much will the school board provide in the 2013-14 budget year? The library has asked for $2.5 million, which is less than the nearly $3 million it currently receives. At that lower level, the library will acquire fewer materials, employ fewer staff and be open for shorter hours.
For more than a century, Kanawha residents have enjoyed the legacy of earlier citizens who established and improved the public library.
In addition to the obvious books, computers and homework help offered to people who visit public library branches, library staffers also contribute to education every day is ways not immediately obvious. They beef up school libraries and classroom collections. They offer programs in schools and other sites tied to the school system's learning goals. They offer programs for young parents and small children to foster literacy. They offer Internet access to people who can't afford it at home. They offer tools and help for job hunters and entrepreneurs.
For decades, Kanawha County has enjoyed a top-notch library that moves and changes with the times, that supports the education of residents of all ages, both in school and out. That has been possible because the library network has been adequately and consistently funded. Most counties in West Virginia do not invest as much in their libraries. While the state consistently ranks in the top 10 in state support for public libraries, West Virginia ranks 49th in local support. Kanawha has long been a happy exception.
In deciding how much to voluntarily fund this important part of public education, school board members will determine their legacy, and show what kind of community they want to leave for those who come afterward.