Basalt library district rallying to keep facility open Mondays
One month after a hard-fought and somewhat bitter election campaign, the Basalt Regional Library District is asking midvalley residents to rally to its aid.
The library district is trying to remain open on Mondays in 2004 by making up a $30,000 budget shortfall. A letter will be mailed to citizens in the Basalt and El Jebel area this month seeking contributions.
Bruce Gabow, a member of the library district’s board of directors, said he hopes midvalley residents rally around something positive “after all these negatives went down.”
He referred to the battle leading up to the November election. The library district sought a property tax increase to build a new 16,000-square-foot library in El Jebel as well as expand and remodel the existing library in Basalt.
A group called Citizens For One Library mounted a strong campaign against the proposal. It was routed by a 58 to 42 percent margin in the election.
Now the library district is turning to those former opponents as well as the supporters of the ballot question to assist the library.
“It has the potential to be a real unifying effort,” Gabow said.
The 2004 budget assumes that the library won’t be open on Mondays next year. However, citizens such as Dave Reed, a library supporter from Basalt, and Basalt Town Councilwoman Anne Freedman took it upon themselves to seek contributions to keep the library open on Mondays.
Library director Linda Levy said nearly $1,000 was raised from 15 or so people by that grass-roots effort. In response, the library staff committed to staying open on Mondays through January.
To prevent the staff from getting stuck in limbo, Levy set a goal to reach an additional $14,000 by the end of January to ensure the library would stay open on Mondays through the first half of the year.
The ultimate goal is to raise $30,000 to stay open on Mondays year-round.
The library is always closed on Sundays. That isn’t a budget-related issue.
To raise the funds, the library will send a fund-raising letter to people who have shown an interest in library issues, even if they opposed the new facility, according to Gabow.
“Closing the library’s doors to children, students, and adults on Mondays would diminish the library’s relevance to the community, making it that much harder to win support for future library improvements,” the fund-raising letter states.
There are already signs that the fund-raising effort is striking a chord with the community. The Basalt Town Council contributed $5,000 Tuesday night and will urge the Pitkin and Eagle county commissioners to each match that amount.
Gabow said the fund-raising letter isn’t being mailed en masse to the residents of the district. Library district officials are hoping that people targeted with the letter will pass it on to friends and build a chain-letter effect. Anyone who wants one of the fund-raising letters should stop by the library in Basalt, he said.
[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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Andrew Huntsman and Ralph Smalley were chosen by the seniors to give the class address during Basalt High School’s graduation ceremony on Saturday. This had the two BHS teachers questioning the legitimacy of those diplomas they were about to hand out.