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Lee County Libraries Seek Boost

Keokuk Public Library
Keokuk Public Library

Lee County’s public libraries are looking for a funding increase from the county.

There is not a single library that serves rural residents.

Instead, they can visit one of the five libraries located in Keokuk, Fort Madison, Montrose, Donnellson, and West Point.

Keokuk Library Director Emily Rohlfs says that allows more rural Lee County residents to take advantage of the facilities.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of items borrowed, the number of patrons we have, and the number of people who are coming to library programs.”

The library association says the five facilities experienced nearly 200,000 visits from July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011.

During those visits, almost 205,000 items were borrowed, which is a 1% increase compared to the previous year.  Rural residents accounted for nearly 47,000 of those items.

The association says 48% of Lee County’s rural residents have a library card, which accounts for more than 20% of the total cardholders countywide.

Rohlfs says while more rural residents are being served, the county’s annual contribution of $60,000 covers just under 7% of the combined budgets for the five libraries.

She says the library association is seeking an additional $3,500 in next year’s budget.  The money would be used for additional youth programs and for a DVD rental program.

At this point, though, the county is unwilling to increase the figure beyond $60,000.

A public hearing on the budget is tentatively scheduled for late February.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.