Action team planning ways to ensure libraries are funded

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 1, 2018

Wednesday afternoon, members of the Pearl River County Library System Action Team held a meeting to discuss the next course of action to deal with cuts to public library funding in recent years.

Last week library staff along with concerned citizens visited the Mississippi Legislature in Jackson to present a petition and voice concerns about the importance of libraries.

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Pearl River County Library System Director Carol Phares said the library is deeply imbedded in the community.

Phares said she would like for community members to not only advocate for more funding from the government but also look for other revenue sources. 

“We have to figure out ways to make money on our own,” Phares said.

She said there is a need for a grant writing committee that would include individuals capable of writing grants and organizing fundraisers for the library.

Laura Anne Ewald, author, public speaker and advocate for the library, said librarians are geniuses at doing more with less but it is impossible to do more with nothing.

Ewald suggested the library committee come up with a marketing plan to attract more funding. She said they could begin by helping the library purchase booth space at the Street Festival coming up in April or organize short plays to push their summer reading program and encourage more reading programs.

Phares said she would like to obtain a grant so she can increase staff salaries and provide a sustainable annual book budget. The book budget dropped from approximately $60,000 to a mere $1,000, which is used to purchase library supplies.

Phares said there is also a need to determine what the public wants to read in order to attract more people to the library. She said the first step is to weed out old books that have not been checked out for years while keeping more popular books on the shelves.

“(There are) so many things the library can do if we have a thriving program,” Phares said.