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County library director position eliminated in new plan

By Staff | Jan 25, 2010

The way the libraries in Faribault County are connected and operated will be getting a big overhaul in the near future.

Currently, four cities operate their own libraries – Winnebago, Wells, Blue Earth and Elmore.

In addition, there is a Faribault County Library Services Board which has been operating seven rotation/station libraries. Those are located in Bricelyn, Frost, Kiester, Minnesota Lake, Walters, Delavan and Easton.

After months of meetings, work sessions and negotiations, a new plan was presented to the Faribault County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

The new plan calls for three of the city libraries to furnish books, other materials, and staff support for the seven station libraries.

Blue Earth will provide rotation services to Bricelyn and Frost, Wells will serve Kiester, Minnesota Lake and Walters, and Winnebago will provide items to Delavan and Easton.

Elmore’s city library will continue to operate as it has been, independently.

Faribault County Library Director Pauline Siem and Library Board Chairman Mary Bielke presented two separate contracts for the County Board to approve. One was for the station libraries to sign, one for the cities.

The board approved the plan and also the contracts.

The amount the county has budgeted for the library board will remain the same. That money comes from a $181,000 maintenance of effort local tax levy.

The contracts for services call for each of the four city libraries, including Elmore, to receive a base amount of $2,500.

In addition, the Blue Earth and Winnebago libraries will receive an extra $14,624 for servicingtheir two station libraries. Wells will receive $21,936 for serving three station libraries.

The plan also includes a $25 per month reimbursement to all of the libraries to help pay for their internet access costs. Money for computers and other technology is also in the plan.

One result of the new plan is the elimination of Siem’s position of county library director. She will be leaving the post at the end of February, after 10 years as the county library director.

Siem’s salary and office expenses are what will now be dispersed to the three city libraries to pay for their support of the station libraries.

The Library Board itself will continue to function, as it still has the responsibility to see that the station libraries remain in operation.

Attending the meeting with Siem’s and Bielke was Dale Zelenke, new director of the Traverse Des Sioux area library system.

Zelenke told the board members that the Faribault County Library system has been operating in violation of state regulations.

He told the board the new plan should be in compliance with the state law.

The violation involves operating a county library system, and having a maintenance of effort levy in place, without having an actual physical county library building.

County board member Tom Warmka says he was embarrassed to learn the county had been in violation, but he and other board members say they were never informed of the situation by the state.