MY WORD: Why the Shelby County Public Library sought grant money

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By Pamela W. Federspiel

As the executive director of the Shelby County Public Library, I must clarify some of the statements made concerning the library in the What We Think editorial (“Foundation needs to tweak program,” Nov. 27).

Yes, the library is a taxing district, but in 29 years, the tax rate has not been above the tax rate set in 1984. In Nov. 6, 1962, voters approved by a 2 to 1 majority the first levy for tax support. The rate was 3 cents for $100 of property value. In 1979, the original tax rate of 3 cents was cut back to 2.7 cents by House Bill 44. In 1983 a petition drive raised the tax rate to 3.5 cents for $100 of property value. The rate took effect with the 1984 tax bills. The rate for 2013 tax bills was 3.5 cents.

The Shelby County Public Library is the only library in the commonwealth that has not raised the tax rate that was set by petition. In fact,  the state librarian & commissioner, Wayne Onkst, sent a letter in October on commending our Library Board of Trustees on ”providing outstanding results for Shelby County.”

The tax rate is set yearly, usually the month of August, after receiving the information from the PVA and then calculated by the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives. The tax rate is then signed by the Shelby County Clerk. This process is completed once a year, as does the Shelby County School System, the Health Department, the Extension Agency and other taxing districts.

Yes, the library’s annual Summer Reading Program is sponsored by Commonwealth Bank & Trust. Their sponsorship includes paying for the kickoff program and the finale for summer reading, two sessions each for special performers once a week for the 6-7 week program and the printing cost for book logs, bookmarks and posters. This past summer we had over 1,860 children sign up to read, children finishing the program received a free paperback book of their choice. The funding for the paperback books does not come from the generous donation from CB&T.

The library holds a Scholastic Book Fair and uses the profits to purchase some of the paperback books. As we all know, the price for a paperback has gone up over the years. Last year, we asked our Friends of the Library for a donation towards the purchase of these books. However, they chose not to fund this program. Funding received from the Friends group is to specific projects, and checks are issued accordingly.

Yes, the Shelby County Public Library is classified as a non-profit organization and did apply and received a grant for $2,000 from the Shelby County Community Foundation to purchase paperback books for the Summer Reading program. This is the first time we have applied for funding through the foundation during the 23 years I have been the executive director. I believe that the grant we received to provide a paperback book chosen by a child is both a fair and appropriate use of the funds.

Yes, Moses Ruben was “a small business man with a big idea,” which was to benefit the community. What a great way to guide a child to the path of education than by gifting the child with a book they have earned. Perhaps, one day they may also give back to their community.

Pamela W. Federspiel is executive director of the Shelby County Public Library.