The New Carlisle Public Library is asking local governments to support changing the local split of the state’s public library funding to help it expand after the Clark County Public Library denied its request. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

New Carlisle, Clark County library work to resolve funding dispute

Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt held a meeting with officials from both libraries on July 11.

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Earlier this month, the New Carlisle Public Library began asking local governments to support increasing its share of the state’s public library funding to help it expand hours and services after the Clark County Public Library denied its request because it believes the current split is fair.

The Clark County Public Library system has a main library in downtown Springfield and four branches, including locations in South Charleston and Enon, while the New Carlisle Public Library has one library.

The group talked about budget challenges and mutual goals, especially for all residents of Clark County.

“Both entities have a lot to offer to our citizens,” Wilt said. “There didn’t see to be any disagreement about that among the entities.”

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Beth Freeman, the new director of the New Carlisle library, asked county commissioners to consider supporting an increase of its split to 13 percent — up to about $590,000 annually — of the $4.5 million provided to public libraries in Clark County.

The library currently receives about 10.7 percent of the state money, while the Clark County Public Library system receives the remainder — a split formulated in 2005. The New Carlisle library received about $488,000 in 2015, making up its entire budget. Its counterpart in Clark County received about $4 million.

Freeman met with Clark County Public Library Director Sally Rizer earlier this year and asked to have the library board of trustees consider increasing New Carlisle’s share of the state funding. The Clark County library board members declined, Rizer said, because they believe the split is fair.

The New Carlisle library wants an additional $100,000 to extend its hours back to six days per week for the first time since 2009. Wilt suggested the boards continue to discuss possible services the New Carlisle library could provide for the revenue, she said.

“There are some opportunities to think creatively on how to collaborate on that and find that $100,000 that New Carlisle needs, possibly without changing the split,” Flax Wilt said.

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Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes hopes the collaboration can lead to a grant for New Carlisle with the groups partnering on some type of program, he said.

“We’ve got to figure if the Clark County Public Library is going to give up $100,000, what’s in it for them?” Flax Wilt said.

Clark County Commissioner Lowell McGlothin frequents the New Carlisle library about two to three times per week, he said.

“I can see a big time need,” McGlothin said. “I’m hoping the two boards can work things out.”

The Clark County Public Library’s Board of Trustees will host its monthly meeting at 4 p.m. Monday, July 17, in the Main Library Board Room at 201 S. Fountain Ave. Freeman and board members from New Carlisle will also be in attendance, Rizer said. The meetings are open to the public.

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“We’ll be meeting and maybe we can reach a consensus,” Rizer said.

Freeman is open to anything that allows the New Carlisle library to be financially healthy and open six days per week, she said.

The library needs to meet the community where they are, Freeman said.

The New Carlisle library hopes to hire an adult programmer and two library assistants, she said. The increased funding would also lead to more public outreach for people who can’t travel to the library.

“It’s not restricted to just western Clark County,” Freeman said. “We’ve always felt that serving the entirety of the area is important.”

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