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Library board discusses 2023 budget, new SOS rule

SOS rule addresses inappropriate materials by Garrett Fuller | October 26, 2022 at 4:03 a.m.
Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — Banned books are seen displayed Oct. 19, 2022, at the Moniteau County Library at Wood Place. Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced a proposed administrative rule that affects "inappropriate" materials at state-funded libraries.

Trustees of the Moniteau County Library joined colleagues statewide in concerns over a proposed rule affecting what some libraries offer.

The trustees convened Oct. 19 at the Moniteau County Library to discuss a proposed rule from the Secretary of State that would affect "inappropriate" materials in state-funded libraries, the 2023 budget and more.

According to a news release from the Secretary of State office, the proposed rule would mean "libraries would adopt written policies determining what material is age-appropriate. As well, state funds could not be used to purchase or acquire inappropriate materials in any form that appeal to the prurient interest of a minor." The policy follows national controversy surrounding books deemed inappropriate for children being available at school and public libraries.

The release said the proposed rule, which has already been published online, will be published Nov. 15 in the Missouri Register. A 30-day comment period will follow.

Library Director Connie Walker said the proposal has been unpopular with librarians across the state.

"This just popped up this week and (the Missouri Public Library Directors) email group (has) just been blown up," she said.

For the Moniteau County Library, Walker said she's concerned the rule may mean materials will need to be removed.

"We're not really sure how invasive that (rule) is going to be. It sounded like we were going to have to have materials off the shelves," she said. "It sounded like if you have in your (young adult) collection something that they would deem on their list, or is on their list, as inappropriate and you've got preschoolers walking to their program between that, you're not going to get state funding."

Lou Ann Wolfe, vice president of the Board of Trustees, said the library is already keeping inappropriate materials out of the youth section.

"It does not give any credence to the judgment of who's been hired to administrate your library," she said. "I can't believe that this would happen. A library is a choice. And, yes, of course, you don't put adult books with the primary (books)."

The Missouri Library Association (MLA) published a statement on Oct. 19 that called the proposed rule "an infringement on the professional judgment of librarians, and an effort to further stoke division in the communities that libraries serve."

"The placement of books and materials in libraries is something that should be left up to people with training and experience in the profession of librarianship," the MLA statement also said.

Public comments regarding the proposed rule can be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to the Secretary of State office at P.O. Box 1767, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

The board also discussed the proposed 2023 budget.

Erin Ogg, circulation manager and bookkeeper for the library, said the library is expecting $270,000 to carry over into 2023. She said tax revenue is projected to be $249,000, an increase of $13,000 over 2022.

Increasing revenue will be matched with increasing expenses, particularly in materials.

Ogg said she increased the easy reading books budget to $3,000, increased the juvenile budget to $3,500, and increased the puzzle and games budget to $200. The overall increase in the materials budget is $3,170.

The programming budget also increased. Ogg said the adult programming budget was increased by $500, and the budget for adult craft nights were increased by $1,000. She added there are three craft nights held monthly: one for the general public at the library, a second at California Care Center and a third for the SB 40 board.

Ogg said administrative and building maintenance expenses will not change. She said the budget has not been exceeded in previous years.

Perhaps the biggest change for 2023 is the summer reading program.

Instead of applying for grants to pay for the program, the library hopes to use state aid to pay for it. Walker said using state funding for the program instead of applying for the grant will ease her workload due to less reporting requirements.

"... If I have to write the grant, do the interim report, Erin has to keep all the invoices, I have to type all (the invoices) in a big spreadsheet that all has to be uploaded," Walker said. "It is incredibly time consuming and that's not the final report. You're probably going to spend (the grant) on my salary."

Technology expenses also increased. Ogg said other expenses only increased by $104.

The bottom line for the 2023 budget is $239,000 in total expenses, an increase of $14,000 over 2022 expenses. The budget increased by $60,000.

Walker said changes to the budget can be made before December, when the budget will be adopted.

In other action:

  • The board intends to renew a depository agreement with Commerce Bank.
  • In her report, Walker discussed: $20 million being approved by Congress for construction and remodel of libraries nationally; organizers of the Friends of the Moniteau County Library book sale are still tabulating proceeds; the new SharePoint file system is operational; programming has increased; circulation has increased; and the amount of library cards has also increased.

The next Moniteau County Library Board of Trustees meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 16 at the Moniteau County Library at Wood Place, 501 S. Oak St.

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