Why was reciprocity with council bluffs discontinued?
Thanks for your question.
I double-checked with our Circulation Manager and, as of April 1st, Council Bluffs also no longer accepts Omaha residents for reciprocal borrowing. The following is excerpted from a letter she sent to a Council Bluffs resident:
Please know that the decision to discontinue the agreement, while not reached lightly, was made by both library systems, with input from both library directors and then by a vote of our Library Board of Trustees.
While many people believe that libraries are free, the fact is that public libraries are not free. Every citizen who lives in Douglas County, Nebraska pays money each year to use our libraries. Their tax dollars, which for us are charged as property taxes, are the funds that we use to pay for our books, our buildings, our staff, and our programs. In exchange for this, we provide them with a library card to make use of these resources. The amount they pay in taxes to the library varies, depending on the value of their home. It averages around $60-$80 per household.
Individuals who do not pay taxes for our library system may use our libraries as well, but since they do not pay us property taxes, they pay us an annual fee of $75 per household. This non-resident fee is charged to anyone who does not live within Douglas County, even if they live in Nebraska. The situation of providing free privileges to Iowa residents was frustrating to Nebraska residents who had to pay for the privilege. Now, everyone who is using the library is contributing to the cost of keeping it running and stocked with great materials and friendly staff. The non-resident fee also helps us to provide more copies of popular materials, reducing the waiting list for those items.
I know the $75 fee is high when you have to pay it out of pocket, but I also know it is a great value. That is barely the cost of three or four new hardcover best sellers. We also offer a four-month membership for $25. Several people use this option during the winter or summer when they have more free time. Remember, also, that the membership fee is per household. So everyone who lives in your residence is eligible for a library card with one membership payment.
There are many things you can enjoy in our libraries without a library card. All of our programs and special events are free to anyone. You can also use our resources inside any of our libraries for free. And, finally, if there are books that the Council Bluffs Public Library does not own that you’d like to borrow, there is a program called Interlibrary Loan in which we participate. Speak to your CBPL staff to see what their policies are regarding this service.
Again, thank you for expressing your concerns to us. I hope you will consider keeping a library membership.