The Library needs your help. Arrowhead Library System and Grand Rapids Area Library (GRAL) are requesting a $70,000 funding increase from the Itasca County Board of Commissioners - less than $2 per resident - to continue basic operations (books, hours, staff) at current levels. Library funding is complex. In a nutshell: there are state mandated minimum funding levels for both the City of Grand Rapids and Itasca County. The City supports the Library at 79 percent above the state mandated minimum, and cannot continue to increase that funding. The county pays the minimum and no more, and has chosen not to increase their contribution in over 8 years. To sustain operations at your Library this needs to change.
The County Board is considering the joint ALS/GRAL request and it is critical they hear from constituents who support library services. Start by reminding commissioners that the County Board has supported library services for over 50 years (1966). The county budgeting process is starting to take shape and it is especially important to reach out to your County Commissioner this summer.
Some talking points to consider when contacting a County Commissioner:
•GRAL is used by ALL of Itasca County - there are about 20,000 library card holders in Itasca County - most from outside the City of Grand Rapids
•Most use at GRAL is from Itasca County residents from outside Grand Rapids – only 39 percent of circulation is from Grand Rapids residents
•Cost burden is skewed and needs adjustment - almost 250,000 items were checked out from libraries in Itasca County last year - a full 75 percent at the Grand Rapids Area Library
•Library funding is smart money - GRAL is the busiest library in NE Minnesota outside Duluth and compares favorably to regional peers:
Grand Rapids 183,169 (Check-outs)
•An average of 50 people per hour visit GRAL
•70+ volunteers contributed over 3,500 hours last year – equivalent to 1.5 full time staff
•Library funding is a good use of tax dollars with over $3 in services created for every $1 spent
Grand Rapids Area Library exists because of efforts from library champions past, present, (and future). Thank you for lending your voice to support sustaining library services. Please contact me with any questions.
Itasca County Board of Commissioners
Itasca County Courthouse
123 NE 4th St
Grand Rapids, MN 55744