AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - Horseshoe Bend Regional Library Director Deja Ruddick stressed the importance of a partnership between Auburn and Horseshoe Bend at the Auburn City Council.
The comment came amid a discussion of the future of libraries in Alabama, sparked by contract negotiations between Auburn Public Library and Horseshoe Bend library.
Through the Auburn Public Library and Horseshoe Bend library partnership, Auburn Public Library provides Horseshoe Bend with nearly half of its state aid amounting to $45,846, which comes to about 10% of its yearly operating budget. Horseshoe Bend redistributes this money to 10 other libraries in their regional system including all state-aided public libraries in Lee, Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa counties.
Auburn’s partnership is crucial to the regional library, because state aid is decided by population, and Auburn state aid is nearly equal to the state aid from all other regional libraries combined.
“In some of these communities, the library is the only way that families can get access to Wi-Fi, and they use library computer access for applying to jobs and doing online courses and connecting with family and entertainment,” said Ruddick. “Not to mention, the books that they have available for entertainment or for school projects or for homeschool families. All of those resources that the community relies on would be threatened.”
City Manager Megan Crouch agreed that the partnership needs to continue, but thought it was worth discussing how Auburn Public Library’s funds are crucial to Horseshoe Bend and the other libraries within Horseshoe Bend’s regional system.
“I think at this time it is absolutely appropriate to discuss where do these funds come from and how are they utilized,” said Crouch.
The Horseshoe Bend library has been providing service to other libraries for around 80 years, and Auburn Public Library has been part of its system since it opened in 1960.
“They are often run by passionate librarians who make little more than minimum wage, and they rely on Horseshoe Bend,” said Ruddick.
Aside from providing books, these libraries offer other benefits to the towns which include ukelele lessons, game clubs, computers and internet access. Horseshoe Bend library also has a mobile outreach service where they travel to nursing homes, daycares and other venues who may not have the ability to visit the libraries themselves.
“Currently we are relying on Horseshoe Bend library to provide monthly book mobile stops to a variety of places in Auburn including daycares and other facilities of that nature,” said Auburn Public Library Director Tyler Whitten.
Many of these libraries are in small underserved areas where without the partnership between Auburn and Horseshoe Bend, they might not be able to survive on their own. One of these libraries, which Ruddick would not name, has a total budget of $26,000 which includes salaries and all other expenses.
“When it comes down to it, I realize that Auburn Public Library does not need Horseshoe Bend Regional Library, but let me be perfectly clear, our regional library needs Auburn Public Library,” said Ruddick.