Editor's note: This article originally stated that Newman Grove and Norfolk are the sole supporters of their public libraries and that they do not receive support from Madison County. Multiple sources misinformed The Telegram and a clarification is needed – Newman Grove does receive funds from Madison County. The story has been updated to reflect the clarification.
The Platte County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at its regular meeting Tuesday to stop giving Humphrey Public Library $5,000 each year for library services.
Since 1999, the County has annually allocated $5,000 to the City of Humphrey to pay for library services. That money supports free library memberships for rural county residents.
It’s unclear how this will affect the free Humphrey Public Library memberships of rural county residents.
District 7 Supervisor Kim Kwapnioski asked if Humphrey was notified that the Platte County Board planned to stop giving the funds. District 4 Supervisor Ron Pfeifer said they were not.
“There was never any formal contract, there was never any formal agreement,” Pfeifer said.
The Telegram reached out to the Humphrey Public Library, but they declined to comment on the board's decision.
Pfeifer said he does not understand why Columbus receives funds from the county to pay for walk-in services for rural residents, either. He added that the attraction of the library benefits the town already.
“These towns are happy to have you come into town because you might buy a hamburger. You might buy gas," Pfeifer said. "You’re creating business for the town, you’re creating sales tax for the City."
Pfeifer also said there are libraries in the area that do not charge for walk-in services.
“I can go into Norfolk Library – and I have – and looked up stuff just a few years back. It didn’t cost me anything to walk in there. I checked out a book, it didn’t cost me anything. I can go into the Humphrey Library and to the Newman Grove Library and check out books. It doesn’t cost anything to go in there,” Pfeifer said.
The public libraries in Norfolk and the Newman Grove do provide free services to all, but they are located in Madison County. Humphrey and Columbus are the only towns in Platte County with their own public libraries.
In Newman Grove and Norfolk, the cities are the sole supporters of the library. Madison County does not provide funds to those libraries.
Norfolk Public Library Director Jessica Chamberlain said the Norfolk Public Library is supported by the City’s sales tax. She said the reasoning is that people who visit the library are likely to spend money in town, thereby supporting the library through sales tax.
During the meeting, Pfeifer also raised the question of why the Bookmobile stops in Humphrey when its residents do not pay the levy to support it.
“My argument is that a lot of the kids that go to the Humphrey schools are from the farm community, and their parents do pay the tax. So there’s no reason why they shouldn’t participate in the Bookmobile under those circumstances,” District 1 Supervisor Fred Liss said.
Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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