The truth about the library funds

To the editor,

A recent letter to the editor questioning the handling of library funds has caused concern in the community.

The Building Fund was established to augment the bond issue. Funds were donated to support the new library through the Friends of the Library, a 501c3, and ear-marked strictly for technology, furniture and landscaping with the expenditures controlled by the Library Advisory Board subject to approval by the Friend’s Board.

The Building Fund is not replenishable. The goal was to raise $750,000. Citizens raised $1,250,000. One million dollars of this fund was spent before the new library was opened leaving a balance of $250,000. This residual has been spent on assets like 40 e-readers, the book-drop cover, the coffee shop operated by School District 9-R training special-needs youth, digitization of Durango newspapers, a contribution to the Durango Botanical Society for library grounds projects, & so on. Yes, there is a balance of $98,846.62, but given that joint sales tax revenues that fund the library are down, & that the Building Fund is not replenishable, is it wise to spend this money unnecessarily?

Separately, Friends of the Library raises funds through the work of over 100 volunteers and the generosity of book donations. The Friends annually accrue approximately $30,000 from book sales and the book store. The Friends spend approximately $40,000 yearly on activities such as library programs, the Literary Festival, and children’s room upgrades.

Joint sales-tax revenues are down keeping the library from adding needed staff, opening on Sundays, and limiting the library budget. The Friends Board decided to keep a financial cushion in case needs arise that cannot be funded through the library budget. We must be prepared for the future, and access to literacy and technology must be kept open for all our citizens.

Rest assured, the Friends of the Library understand their fiduciary responsibility and have been good stewards with the funds entrusted to them!

– Maile Kane, president, Friends of the Durango Public Library; and Steve Redding, vice president, Friends of the Durango Public Library and chair emeritus, Durango Public Library Advisory Board