Grants help, but dedicated funding needed

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Pearl River County Library System recently received a grant from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, while the Poplarville branch library received one from the Poplarville Rotary Club.

We thank those organizations. The money is badly needed. Unfortunately, grants are limited by time and purpose. The LPRV Foundation grant will provide funding for six months, allowing the library system to add hours, an employee and some much needed children’s books.

What the library system really needs, though, is a consistent source of income from the county in the form of dedicated millage, which state law allows. State law, with the approval of the county board of supervisors for counties and for city councils or boards of aldermen for cities, allows for up to 5 mills to be assessed automatically for libraries.

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Years ago, realizing its importance, Picayune approved the assessment of 2 mills to help fund the local library. The county should allow for 5 mills, which would require approval from the board of supervisors. Local governments appoint the board of directors, so it’s unlikely that the library board would try to run wild with such funding.

Libraries today provide so much more than books, which are still important. They provide a place for college students to take courses online and a place where tests in those courses can be monitored for the institutions providing the courses. They provide a place for people without computers to hunt for and apply for jobs and a place for students and others to do research. Libraries are a lifeline of knowledge and an access to opportunity.

We need them, and they need proper funding.