Tipton library patrons attend county library board meeting

More attention than usual was garnered by the Moniteau County Library Board at the January meeting. The board, which met at Tipton's Price James Library Thursday, Jan. 17, was greeted by more than 50 people concerned about the future of the Tipton library.

The unusual number of people at the meeting was spurred by information in a press release from the county library board which was published by the California Democrat in the Jan. 1 issue. It announced the establishment of a Moniteau County Library by the donation of California's Wood Place Library, including building, furnishings, collections and operating checking accounts.

The entire donation was valued at $1.8 million, based on insurance replacement value. The building value is estimated at $1.1 million, with the remainder valued at $700,000.

Now having assets to oversee, Moniteau County Library Board members Marian Gish, Lee Longan, Sara Rohrbach, JoAnn Collier and Ruby Gerber approved Connie Walker as the new county library director. In addition to having been librarian of the Wood Place Library, Walker had previously completed county library director training and was formerly the library director for Morgan County. She is also the executive director of the county library board.

Before the donation of the Wood Place Library to the county library board, the board contracted with two private libraries to provide services to residents of the county. Each library owned its own building, books and other materials. With the transfer of the assets of the Wood Place Library, there is now a county library. Walker explained that by state statutes, there can only be one county library. The board can, however, contract with other libraries. She said the state statutes do not allow those contracts to be extended for more revenue than is taken in. For practical purposes, that limits the contracts to one year at a time. The statutes also require a board contract to be reviewed and renewed annually.

Since there is a county library, Walker said the Price James Library, operated by the City of Tipton, can be contracted with to provide library services.

The contract was accepted by the Price James Library. According to Tipton Librarian Marsha Nelson, the library previously received its funds in a lump sum. Under provisions of the contract, the funds will be disbursed quarterly. The contracted amount is for $56,000.

A number of questions by the Price James Library patrons were asked out of concern that the Tipton library would be lost. While the long-term implications of the change remain to be seen, it appears the goal is to comply with Section 182.015 of the Revised Missouri Statutes. That part of the statutes directs forming county libraries. According to Walker, of the counties with a county library district, Moniteau County was the last to set up a county library.

It was generally agreed during the civil discussion that one of the major problems has been a lack of communications between the county library board and the Tipton library and patrons.

Walker commented that the residents "should be excited to have a county library" and pleased that the county "is getting closer to compliance with state statutes."

"The goal is to put these processes in place," Walker said during the board meeting. "The job of the library trustees is to provide county library services."

The former Wood Place Library Board is still in existance, but is now the board of directors of Elia Wood Paegelow Foundation. The board consists of President Laura Burger, Vice president Tyler Davis, Treasurer Rudy Schroeder, Secretary Carole Barbour and members Beth Fennewald, Debbie Staton and Barb Walters.

According to County Clerk Anita Groepper, the Moniteau County Library District was established in 1997. There were two subdistricts established, based on the school districts. One subdistrict included the Tipton, Clarksburg and Latham school districts. That subdistrict passed a library tax levy. Those funds up to this point had gone towards supporting the contracted Price James Library in Tipton.

The second subdistrict included the rest of the school districts in the county. The voters in that subdistrict did not approve a library tax. Later, the voters of the City of California approved a library tax. Following that vote, the Wood Place Public Library, was supported by the Elia Wood Paegelow Trust and City of California library taxes. The Wood Place Library had been established in 1955 by the First Christian Church with funds from the Elia Wood Paegelow Trust. It was originally in the Wood-Paegelow home on East Street and moved to 501 South Oak Street in 1998. The facility was provided after restoration by California Progress, Inc. (CPI).

The Moniteau County Library at Wood Place plans a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 12:15 p.m., followed by an open house hosted by the Elia Wood Paegelow Foundation.

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