Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nicollet Library Project

Nicollet County has never had a county library, but our citizens have been the beneficiaries of excellent library services. Nicollet County has purchased library services for our rural citizens from city libraries located in St. Peter and North Mankato. We have purchased the use of the Bookmobile from Blue Earth County by going through the city of North Mankato. As a result, the Bookmobile has been our "library" for rural Nicollet County. (Rural Nicollet County refers to all areas other than St. Peter and North Mankato).

The tax dollars that Nicollet County spends for library services come only from rural Nicollet County i.e. 13 townships and the cities of Nicollet, Lafayette, and Courtland. The cities of St. Peter and North Mankato fund their libraries through a levy that applies only to their citizens.Nicollet County is also a member of the Traverse des Sioux Regional Library System. This membership allows our citizens to use any library in our nine county region and access to materials nationwide, in fact, all over the world. Recognizing that Nicollet County residents are using many libraries (most likely the facilities located in their place of work, cities they shop in, or where their children attend school); the Nicollet County Board of Commissioners has decided to redirect our library funding.

Nicollet County is mandated by the State of Minnesota to fund library services. Since we have no library, it is challenging to spend the maintenance of effort (MOE) dollars in a way that most directly benefits our rural citizens. The maintenance of effort refers to a formula used by the State Department of Education to determine the dollar amount Nicollet County must spend for library services.A study done in the summer of 2006 determined that the $30,000 we were paying for eleven Bookmobile stops in rural Nicollet County was not cost beneficial. The 2006 Library Task Force recommended directing our dollars away from the Bookmobile and toward a new cooperative venture to offer public library services at the Nicollet Public School. The Bookmobile stops were reduced to four. The study also recommended we continue purchasing services from the cities of St. Peter and North Mankato for the rural residents using those libraries. It should be noted that the Task Force and the Nicollet County Board recognize that Nicollet County residents use the New Ulm, Gaylord, Le Sueur, Cleveland, Winthrop, Mankato and other libraries. The system allows this access as part of the reciprocity privileges of being a member of Traverse des Sioux Regional Library.

Several years ago, the Nicollet School officials indicated an interest in public library services. Renewed talks between Nicollet County, the Nicollet Public School, and the city of St. Peter have led to the county contracting with the St. Peter Library Board to offer public library services at the school in Nicollet. As of this writing, negotiations are taking place. It is possible that the Nicollet Library Project will be up and running by January of 2008. Please watch local news media for announcements of the start of the project. End

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