I wanted to give a quick update on my childhood library, the Pulaski County Library. For ten years, the main branch in Somerset, Kentucky, based in the old post office, was the place I gained a love for science fiction, horror, and the paranormal. It was in its stacks that I was introduced to the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Andre Norton, Basil Copper, Daniel Cohen, and many other wonderful authors. In addition, its interlibrary loan service was the starting point for many of the sources used in The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia.
Now that library, and its sister systems, are in trouble. They just built a new building, and some people on the fiscal court decided that they didn’t like that the taxes set by the library board had been increased. When I say “increased,” I mean that someone with a $100,000 property had to pay $4 more than they did three years ago. So, the fiscal court took the step of circulating a petition to dissolve the library board that sets the tax, because we wouldn’t want to overreact, right?
Ah, but the state of Kentucky says that if you shut down the library board, you shut down the library. And the workers are all laid off. And everyone has to keep paying the taxes to pay off the debt for the new building. And you can’t open another library until all the debts are paid. Which will be several years, at least.
These minor caveats seem not to have been mentioned in the petition.
You can find out more about this whole mess here. To be clear, the opposition position can be summed up as, “Um, we didn’t know we’d shut down the library, but the process demands we do it anyway. Also, oversight?”
So it’s not really clear what the solution to this mess is, aside from mine, which involves a cross-country roadtrip, the location of the signed petitions, and a can of gasoline. If you care about libraries, please let people know what’s going on, so that news will reach someone with knowledge of Kentucky petition law or a personal army.