Letter: Root of library problems lies in communication

Editor:

While I agree Clarkdale needs to make the most of its second chance for Clark Memorial Library (editorial June 24), the basic problem seems to be communication, not the community’s willingness to support a library that from 1927 until the late 1980s was staffed by community volunteers. Clarkdale has always supported its library.

This may be at least part of CML’s difficulties now.

According to the measures by which libraries are evaluated, CML is highly performing. Yavapai County Library Network Figures show it has more in-library materials, lower average cost per circulation, and lower annual cost per resident than comparable libraries in the area. Its circulation has risen 44% over the last three fiscal years. At 15,729 items in F2016, it was the fastest growing library of its size in the County. This year, from January through May, it averaged 3.66 items per resident per month, which is excellent for any library. And the confusion of original (home) library with preferred library aside, some 1200 patrons, over a quarter of Clarkdale’s total population, use CML annually. The only outward indication of fatal decline was the absence of in-library programs, which the Community Service staff didn’t have the time to develop, much less the volunteers to promote.

Yet until the Verde Independent broke the news in February of this year, citizens outside the sphere of town government weren’t aware CML needed support. And even then, not everyone reads every word the VI prints. My partner, a regular patron, learned closure loomed from an in-library survey that asked which library he would patronize if CML were to close. This was in February 2017.

We found the article and attended the February 28 work session, where closure was presented as a lack of use issue. And when we went door-to-door, checking the truth of that, we found many regular patrons who learned of this from us. Overall awareness was less than 50% of the 473 households we surveyed.

For most residents of Clarkdale, the YC Library District’s proposed intervention is their first chance to support CML with more than shocked e-mails to the Town Council.

Since 392 out of 473 households (83%) told us unequivocally that Clark Memorial Library should not be closed, let’s not shove the community in front of a mirror before it even knows of YC Library District Director Corey Christian’s eminently workable proposal.

Speaking of which, I hope all planning to attend Clarkdale’s Old Time 4th of July Celebration (7:00 to 11:00 am) will stop by the Friends of Clark Memorial Library booth near the corner of 11th & Main Streets.

And bring gently used books. In addition to pledges of volunteer time and cash for our librarian, when she or he arrives, the Friends desperately need books for a Gala Reopening Used Book Sale. Just like old times.

Therese Hearn

Clarkdale

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