Showdown at the Library

Last week Hennessey Town Trustee, Harold Shaw presented an agenda item to discuss the future of the Library.  The discussions ranged from completely closing the library, pause the library, and/or purchasing the old Clipper building on Main St and moving a smaller version of the library there.  Trustee Richard Simunek said, “Why can’t we call for a vote of the people to keep the library or tear it down?”  No action was taken at the meeting.  After the meeting, Simunek sent an email to all of the Trustees and The Hennessey POST, stating that he would pay the $2,500 fee it would cost to hold an election. 

This week Simunek sent an email to all of the Trustees and The Hennessey POST, stating, “For the record, the town council has not pursued any grants or financial legacy giving since the town council acquired the old school building in 1983, a period of four decades.  But grants were initiated by the library staff and received for front door handicap access and children’s programs.”

Hennessey’s Town Administrator, Tiffany Tillman responded, “I, on behalf of the Town of Hennessey pursued the grant to make the library handicap accessible and also remodel of the bathrooms. This was done with a REAP Grant.  The grant was for approximately $50,000.  I am not sure where you are getting your information.”

Ann Taylor, current President of the Library Board, and Treasurer of the Friends of the Library stated in an email addressed to Mayor Bert Gritz, “I am very much in favor of continuing with the library and not doing a pause.  I think it is vital that we hire a new Library Director while Lyndsey is still here to train her/him.   If we were to pause on the library, have you considered that we would no longer receive the Kingfisher sales tax for libraries?  We would lose our designation as a state library and therefore the state aid money and Universal Services money would be lost to us”.

Currently, the Hennessey Library receives approximately $3,000 in State aid. $3,251 was received from Universal Services last quarter, and in April, the library got $2,289.82 from Kingfisher sales tax.  This amount varies from month to month based on sales tax revenue.

Taylor said, “As for the need for a library in a town the size of Hennessey, it is a vital asset! As you know our town is made up of many lower-income families. Many of these families have no access to the internet or digital books. These families would be hurt the most by pausing or closing the library.”