City-County Library Merger Planned to Meet Area Growth

November 10, 1964

Would Equalize Taxing; Eliminate Duplication

A single library to serve all of rapidly growing Monroe County is being planned here.  It would replace the present dual-library system in which the Bloomington Public Library owns the facilities and the Monroe County Public Library uses the facilities on a contract basis.

Plans for the merger into the Monroe County Public Library have been announce by Mrs. George Bridwell, president of the Bloomington Public Library Board. A resolution is to be presented at a joint-board meeting on Monday, Nov. 23, at the Library and the public has been invited to the 4 p.m. hearing.

If this merger is completed, the one Library District in Monroe County will provide library facilities and services to all the residents of the county, the city of Bloomington, and any other cities or towns in the county.

Also, a single county-wide tax levy and rate would support the library. At present the library funds come rom both city and county, with the rate for 1964 being 11 cents in the city townships and eight cents in the other townships.

Mrs. Bridwell pointed out that with a single library district, all taxpayers of both county and city would pay an equal rate to create a more efficient and economical library system.

At present there are two library boards, with seven members on the Bloomington board and four on the county board. However, the county members cannot vote on matters concerning the physical plant and do not hold office as the two boards meet together.

Charles Hunsberger, librarian for both library systems, said the merger was strongly urger by the County Tax Review Board as it considered the library budget this year. He also said a similar merger recently took place in Bartholomew County.

Hunsberger listed these reasons as to why a merger of boards and services has been recommended by the city and county boards:

  1. The Bloomington Public Library has been providing the building and facilities for not only the city but county service, including storage of books and the county bookmobile. This limits the amount of service the whole county can receive.
  2. Users of library services are about equal in city and county and the variation in tax levy places and unequal load on one part of the district. For example, at the end of 1963, there were 12,282 registered borrowers from the city and 11,274 from the county outside the city.
  3. Wit a single library district, the total resources of the county can be organized for greater improvement of library services and the construction of new library facilities.
  4. Under the present system, the library staff each day must duplicate processes, management , and procedures for the two divisions. Just the change to a single bookkeeping system can alone mean a big economy in operation. Now the time spent by employees must be divided between the system for salary, cost of materials and supplies must be allotted to each system. The county system of checking out books differs from the city, and the county rents space from the city in the building on a contractual basis.

Sylvan Tackitt, former member of the Bloomington Library Board and now attorney for the board, explained that in the merger, the physical plant at the corner of 6th and Washington streets would be deeded over to the county by the city board. This would provide the base to enter into a program for expansion of the physical plant.

Hunsberer described the merger proposal as a step to meet the needs of a growing Bloomington and Monroe County looking to a predicted 100,000 population in the service area.

Contracts have been let for a new Bookmobile which will serve as the first step in enlarging service to the county.  The mobile "Branch Library" will follow a schedule for stops at various places throughout the county such as shopping centers, recreational centers in summer months, and housing developments.

A self-contained air-conditioned and heated unit, the big van will pull into its scheduled spot beside its special utility pole, plug in for power, and the library will be open.

One effect of the merger would be that the present 11-member joint board from city and county would be placed by a seven-member board.

Mrs. Bridwell has been on the board 40 years and has been its president 29 years. Mrs. Authur Clark is secretary of the board and the treasurer is H. E. Binford. Other city members are Mrs. A. E. Deupree, Mrs. M. M. Kerr, John Snider and Dr. H. H. Brooks.

County members are Mrs. John Kennedy, Mrs. Edgar Eperson, Mrs. Roy McNeely, and Dr. Paul Nicol.

The proposed merger, which has been recommended by the present 11-member board, would mean that these members would resign, or their terms expire. Then the new seven-member board would be appointed according to the State Library Law. Those on the present boards could be reappointed as of January 1.

The County Commissioners would appoint two member, the Circuit Court judge appoint three and the county school superintendent would appoint two. The law also specifies that these three group of appointees must include at least one woman in each.

"City-County Library Merger Planned to Meet Area Growth," Daily Herald-Telephone, November 10, 1964