By Julie Johansen
Before the public hearing on the 2020 budget for Emery County, Carole Larsen, a retired county librarian, took advantage of the public comment period during Tuesday’s Emery County Commission meeting to read a letter of concern to the commissioners. Larsen questioned the reduction of hours from full-time to part-time for librarians, the cutting of hours of operation for the libraries, and the use of libraries as business centers. She remarked that in her 40 years of service, the county libraries were always able to stay with budget of the mill levy assigned to librarians. She expressed that she feels as if current commissioners did not understand the library system and their importance in each community.
As the public hearing for the 2020 budget began, Carolyn Carassco, Chairman of the Emery Country Library Board, along with many of the board members and librarians addressed the commissioners. They called for the commissioners to reconsider their recommendations of cutting hours for employees as well cutting hours of operation and days that the libraries are open open. They also felt that those present could make the recommendations to the commissioners on how to update the libraries without hiring a consultant. They questioned why have a library board if they are not used and listened to.
Those that spoke also questioned a cost-of-living raise for county employees and elected officials while cutting the library services. They wanted to make it understood that libraries are more than just a place to check out a book; they are the hub of the community. The libraries offer special programs to serve the people of the community, such as quilting and homeschool services.
The commissioners replied that they trying to prioritize the budget as they see a need to change the library system to meet the new demands of society. They stated that they hire people to serve the citizens of the county to meet their individual needs. As the world of industry and spending has changed, so has the need for library services.