Gallagher: Basalt’s library a nonprofit in its own right |

Gallagher: Basalt’s library a nonprofit in its own right

Editor’s note: The following column will appear in Sunday’s print edition of The Aspen Times.

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.” — Albert Camus

So here we are. We have almost made it through another crazy, confusing and cantankerous general election period. In just a few days, it will all be over except for the good, the bad and the ugly from the outcome of the polls. If you have not cast your ballot yet, make sure you do. And if you do not cast your ballot, shame on you.

I struggled with regards to my topic for this column as I vowed to keep my political positions and views to myself as best I can this political season. This is also a column regarding philanthropy and giving back, and I am not sure there is a relative connection to be made or a bridge to be developed between politics and philanthropy. Or maybe there is.

Here is my question: Can a small-town library that is funded as a special district and receives the majority of its funding from mill levy revenues be viewed as a philanthropic organization similar to a nonprofit? I have come to the conclusion that it surely can be. I believe that necessary nonprofits are centered around providing solutions to real-world issues and concerns and focused on the betterment of the overall community.

While the formation and funding may differ from the traditional nonprofit, the Basalt Regional Library provides many similar programs to a typical philanthropic organization. Continuing education and other relevant programming are alive and well at the Basalt Library. The setting is inspirational, the atmosphere positive and engaging. Enrichment, for all ages, is a daily happening. It truly symbolizes that of a caring and involved community and shines bright as a priceless community asset and amenity.

The Basalt Library is currently challenged to make ends meet. It has been 10 years since the Basalt Regional Library District has asked the voters in its district for an increase in funding. Every effort has been made to effectively manage costs and expenses without compromising services. Day-to-day operations and building maintenance have been managed in a fiscally responsible manner, but the decrease in the mill levy based on property values that have dropped nearly 46 percent in the last seven years, have left a dark hole in its funding needs. If the ballot measure does not pass, the result will be a decrease in staff, operational hours, programming and the capital reserve, which provides building and grounds maintenance and repairs.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that community demand for library services has continued to grow. Since 2010, the number of library cardholders has more than doubled, from 9,887 to 22,933. The library has become a community institution, continuing to serve our diverse population, from toddlers to seniors, diverse ethnic and socioeconomic groups with a wide range of interests and needs. For more information on the facts as they relate to Ballot Measure 4A, please go to the Basalt Library website at:

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to cast their vote. But try this thought process: Consider a positive vote for the Basalt Library a part of your personal philanthropic platform that will continually give back to our extended community, for generations to come. Now that’s what I would call a magical ending to a great book.

R.J. Gallagher Jr. is a three-decade resident of the Roaring Fork Valley community. He has served and continues to serve on numerous nonprofit boards including the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, Aspen Community Foundation and Komen Aspen. His firm, Forte International, is a supporter of local philanthropy that makes a difference on a global level. You can reach out to him at

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