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Community must do more to save library

June 25, 2013

It's heartbreaking and even more disappointing to see that efforts to save Falls City's Wagner Community Library appear to be falling significantly short.

The library, which receives nearly all of its financial support from the Falls City School District, could be forced to close Sept. 30 due to school budget reductions as a result of tax levy compression.

The school district, already struggling with ongoing budget woes and a shrinking student population, says it can no longer afford to pay for a librarian and most of the associated costs. Given its situation, we fully understand that and the district's painful decision to possibly end library funding.

Officials had projected that it would take $2,001 each and every month to retain a required librarian, a position currently held by Holly Kraus, who recently submitted her resignation effective at the end of the youth summer reading program, and to keep the doors to the library open to the public for 20 hours per week.

Losing an asset like a library is a terrible thing for a community to endure, and, to be frank, we're disappointed that more Falls City residents and the City Council didn't rally to do more sooner to save the facility. Closing the doors to the library is a black eye on the community.

Results of early fundraising efforts to save the library have been disappointing. And if not for a $2,000 donation announced Monday, the doors would have closed even sooner, likely in late August. With the likelihood of an operating levy for the library passing slim and grants to keep the doors open unavailable, library supporters have few other options.

A library in a community like Falls City is invaluable. Many residents won't have the means to travel to other locales to use libraries in those cities, and others can't afford the additional costs -- $60 for annual full services -- that will come with needing an out-of-district library card. Wagner Community Library patrons could use computers for Internet access to search for jobs. And we can't forget about the youths of Falls City, many of whom are participating in the library's summer reading program and working to keep and improve their reading skills while school is out for the summer.

Books and library programs can expose users to a world of opportunity and information. Libraries open minds and challenge individuals of all ages to discover more than what is immediately placed in front of them.

We hope there is still time for the Falls City community to unite and do all that is possible to keep the library open. After all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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