Funding Millville’s Public Library

My love of reading has had me as a proponent of public libraries. Many conservatives eschew this government expense. I reason that the library is available to all citizens equally. Libraries improve citizens. Overall, the price of running a library is relatively small compared to other services. Public libraries are generally a good thing.

When I moved to Cumberland County in 1994, I was impressed with the CLUES system. CLUES is a county-wide system of public libraries. One’s library card works at all the libraries. Over the years, the CLUES card catalog has been placed online. This allows one to search from home for a resource. Living where I do, it is fairly convenient to hit most of the libraries in the county. Furthermore, libraries work together; one can request a book from library to be delivered to another, can return a book checked out from one library at another, and so forth.

I have used Vineland’s library most frequently. I believe it is the largest in the county. It is very convenient to my work. Furthermore, my district has helped a lot with the technology at the library. There used to be a computer I retired from a school I worked at used at the library. Their children’s department is well-organized and well-staffed.

I do like to do things in the town I live in. Millville’s library is small. They do have a nice reading room of New Jersey resources. I have used that quite a bit during my time. The library reminds me a lot of Cape May’s public library. Being small means there are fewer resources, but the CLUES system really expands the library’s collection.

A small town is never going to have a world-class library. The way such a library excels is through service. Unfortunately, service at the Millville Public Library is lacking. I have detailed some of the issues in the past.

There was another time when I sought a book that I could not find on the shelves. I recruited help. The librarian could not find the book either. She suggested it was either misplaced or stolen. Yet, she seemed not at all concerned. She did not take down the book’s name, ISBN, etc. in order to flag the listing in the card catalog. She just didn’t care that a book was not available.

Yet, Millville’s Public Library keeps requesting more money. It states it cannot provide the public with the services a library should. Not flagging a book you know is missing does not require more funds. Placing a book that is in your possession on the shelf is not something that requires more funds. Why would the public want to reward a public entity that is not serving the public? This is one of those times when a “business” needs to excel on its own before more money is provided.

But that didn’t prevent Millville’s City Commission from increasing the library’s budget by 5% this year. Yet, the Commission didn’t highlight this increase, at least the way it was reported, when it voted to increase property taxes last week.

Health benefits for employees of the five city unions have increased 18 percent over the past year and are responsible for 5.2 cents of the increase. Salary increases account for about a penny of the increase, and pensions more than a penny.

A careful reader will note that that those expenditures only add up to 7.2 cents. The library’s budget increase is about a quarter-cent of the 8-cent increase. In my opinion, the library has done nothing to earn a budget increase. That it got one in the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression while the City Commission decried the tough budget decisions it made is ludicrous!

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