PRYOR, OK —
Chouteau Library has growing pains.
The small town bookery has become the little library that could, surprising the community with its growth, according to Connie Holland.
The four-year-old library now has 680 members and 10,000 volumes. The library has outgrown its current location, Holland told the town council Monday at the regular board of trustees meeting.
“We appreciate the council and the community for their support,” said Holland. “This is a good problem to have, but we're exceeding our space.”
Holland said the library’s budget was cut from $9,900 per year to $7,900 per year. Meaning now the library has half the budget of the town's dog pound.
“Of our $7,900, half of it is used to pay our part-time director to run it. The remaining $2,900 is postage, for mailing overdue notices, and office supplies like printer paper and ink cartridges,” Holland said.
Holland requested that the revenue generated from late fines and patrons paying to print and make copies be returned to the library as additional revenue over and beyond the yearly budget. The revenue in question, Holland said, totals about $80 per month.
“In addition, since the library is more successful than we ever thought, we’re requesting a plan for long-term funding,” Holland said. “To qualify for the Oklahoma Library Association we have to have a director a certain number of hours, and meet other requirements. Long-term this would be beneficial.”
As far as a new building, Holland said the old fire department is the building that would best suit the needs.
“The old funeral home was suggested, but it lacks the square footage. And we would like to remain close to the school for our students that walk over,” said Holland. “The mayor had estimates done two years ago and found the remodel would cost about $50,000.”
Holland said citizens from around the community have approached her about making donations but the library is uncomfortable accepting the money without a definitive plan.
“The town,” Mayor Jerry Floyd said, “we're hurting. We’re operating on a three percent sales tax as we have for 15 or 16 years. We're just holding our heads above water.”
Floyd said when the town pays insurance in June, it will be in the negative.
“My opinion is unless we can come up with some money, we can’t give you anything. We’re at a stand still,” said Floyd.
“We have no problem with them using the old fire department. We just have to have a place to park our trucks,” said Chouteau Fire Chief Ted Key, who said not having a place to park additional trucks could hurt the town’s ISO (insurance) rating, meaning the department could lose county funding.
“We’re looking for revenue. We think the library is important, we want to see it do well,” said board member Brenda Cunningham. “We'd like to see our little town boom.”
The board then explained to Holland, in regard to keeping the small source of revenue as additional income, that the city couldn’t swing it.
The revenue, they said, is already processed through the town and is part of the $7,900 budget. The increase the library is requesting would have to be done as a budget amendment and additional funds would have to be pulled from elsewhere.
“We can’t continue to eat the cost of these supplies, it’s an important service the library offers,” said Holland.
Board members suggested that until changes can be made, the library consider seeking material donations as remodeling pledges rather than donations.
The library is located at 111 N. McCracken St., and is open 10 a.m- 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday, and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday.