Editorial: Painful-but-realistic decision on library awaits Clarkdale Town Council

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VVN file photo

Clarkdale Town Council members Tuesday likely will do the very thing they would give anything to not have to do.

Up for consideration at Clarkdale’s Tuesday, 3 p.m., meeting is a recommendation from staff to close the town’s library effective June 30.

If council members agree to that recommendation, they are simply reacting to the realities of small-town budget austerity.

Equally true, but less palatable to traditionalists, is the reality of the value Clarkdale residents have placed on their library.

There is little evidence the Clark Memorial Library is a vital resource in Clarkdale. It is not the community library of choice for most of the town’s residents. Of the current 15,134 card holders at the Cottonwood Public Library, 1,140 of those patrons live in Clarkdale. By comparison, only 605 Clarkdale residents claim the Clark Memorial Library as their “home library.”

Likewise, the library’s “friends” support – an essential fund-raising arm of any small-town library – has been sadly lacking in Clarkdale. The annual book sale and ice-cream social event hardly constitute “putting your money where your mouth is” in terms of supporting your community library.

The real model for small-town library support in the Verde Valley is best found in Camp Verde. There, the Concerned Citizens for Camp Verde Library, Camp Verde Library Endowment and other benefactors raised and contributed more than $1 million for the town’s new library. With construction of the new Camp Verde Library complete, the Concerned Citizens group evolved into the Friends of Camp Verde Library, an incorporated 501c3 non-profit organization that has taken on the task of raising money for projects not funded by the town and generates about $200 a week for library operations. The Camp Verde Library Endowment group is still active and very close to its $500,000 goal as a continual growing endowment for the future of the library.

Their deeds – not their words – speak volumes about how vital a resource the library is to the Camp Verde community.

Using the same measuring stick, Clarkdale has been largely silent. The 11th-hour protests are too little and too late.

The community dealt the cards the Clarkdale Town Council now must play.

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