LA MARQUE — The La Marque Public Library is in danger of losing accreditation with the Texas State Library unless the city increases its funding, the library’s director told the City Council on Monday.
Telishia Long said in her presentation to the City Council the state of the library was positive, it was getting good use and reaching out to the community, but decreasing funding could cause a problem. The library receives the majority of its funding from the city, with additional money coming from the county and other local sources, but the amount allocated to the library has been decreasing.
The City Council budgeted about $209,000 for the library in 2014, down from $291,000 in 2011, according to the city budget. Fewer funds means the library can spend less, and that could mean losing accreditation and the benefits that come with it.
“This year, we did meet accreditation, but we barely met accreditation because in the past the budget was cut so drastically,” Long said.
According to Long’s report, local operating expenditures were about $246,00 in 2013, and expenditures from local sources would need to increase to about $273,000.
The funding amount is based on a three-year average, so the funding increase does not have to happen right away, but it does need to go up according to the state, Long said.
Accreditation is important because it allows the library to be eligible for and apply for grants and to give access to programs and databases residents and library users benefit from, she said.
“The last thing we want to do is lose our accreditation,” Mayor Pro-Tem Keith Bell said.
The city’s budget writing process is beginning, and Long said she has asked for $30,000 to hire a part-time employee. The city’s contribution to the library could increase to about $254,000 with that addition, said Mayor Bobby Hocking.
While he was only one vote on the council, Hocking said he believed Long would “have a big smile” once the budget writing process began.
Meanwhile, Long said the library is finding new ways to reach residents in the city.
“We’ve really increased our programs, and we’ve geared up our costumer service so that we create a more welcoming atmosphere to our patrons,” she said.
While total library visits were down, overall, the number of registered users increased to more than 7,000 in 2013, and there have been increases in the number of adult programs, among other things, Long said.
The library is working with groups like the local Lions Club, United Way, the La Marque school district and Premier Learning Academy, Long said.
Long said there also were more adult programs to help with people in the changing job market and needing to improve their computer skills, she said.
“(The library) is more of a community resource where people come to gather,” Long said. “It’s not just to read books anymore. It’s to look for a job or to get your income tax filled out, whatever that need may be.”