Leaders mull library options

Published 10:11 am Thursday, February 22, 2007

By Staff
Study to look at relationship between Brown, BHM
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
The city and county are considering making Brown Library a part of the Beaufort-Hyde-Martin Regional Library, but won’t know the ramifications of that until a study is finished at the end of the year.
Leaders batted around the idea of Brown merging with BHM instead of just being a branch of BHM, but are not sure what kind of financial fallout that would cause in the regional library or the other two counties it serves. Commissioner Robert Cayton told his fellow leaders to “consider your neighbors” and “take a total view” before making any drastic moves.
BHM receives about $350,000 annually in state aid, Carbo said in a follow-up interview Tuesday. The entity receives four block grants from the state — one for each county served and one for the regional library itself.
That accounts for one portion of the state funding. The other portion comes from population grants, according to Carbo.
The county contributes $7,800 a year to help run Brown Library. The city then contributes $7,800 a year to help run the Beaufort-Hyde-Martin Regional Library. Without that exchange of funds, both libraries could lose allocations from the state library system.
Commissioner Hood Richardson suggested Monday getting a “blank bill” introduced in the Legislature that would allow Brown Library to become part of BHM.
Cayton said representatives of places with smaller libraries might not take kindly to such a bill.
City leaders contend they cannot continue to fund Brown Library at its current level, particularly because about 60 percent of the patrons live outside city limits. Mayor Judy Meier Jennette said the city “pumped $380,000 into it” to meet the library’s operating costs this budget year.
Councilman Ed Gibson has said he believes it’s an “unfair burden” on city taxpayers to pay for services used mostly by people who don’t live in the city.