Patrons from Pennsylvania, dashing down to borrow a book from Carroll libraries, must pay for the service after March 15.
The county public library's board of trustees is fighting to keep the system afloat after a rash of budget cuts. Members voted to charge out-of-state patrons $15 per year at their meeting Wednesday night.
"We hadn't looked closely at out-of-state users before, but now we're looking at every aspect of the budget," said Martha M. Makosky, library director.
Records show 1,051 Pennsylvania borrowers with Carroll library cards, most of whom patronize the Westminster, North Carroll and Taneytown branches. Although some may drop their memberships, library officials hope to garner $9,000 from the fee.
Out-of-state patrons will be notified that their cards expire on March 15 andthat they should come into any branch to pay the fee and obtain a new card.
"(The new policy) will add to the stress level of our staff, since they will need to explain the policy over and over again," said Gail Griffith, assistant library director. "But we will have laidthe groundwork with our letter."
Washington County libraries charge $15 per year for out-of-state patrons; Cecil County charges $10 annually. Frederick has a $40 one-time fee, with additional charges later.
While board members were loath to charge fees for library services, they consoled themselves that paying patrons won't be Maryland taxpayers.
"We welcome Pennsylvania users, but they aren't paying for the service," Makosky said.
She added that state money is usedto help Maryland libraries cooperate with one another for interlibrary loans. In addition, patrons can borrow books in one county and return them in another.
"That is one of the strengths of the Marylandsystem," she said. "The libraries in Pennsylvania aren't as good."
Board members also agreed to charge out-of-state patrons for genealogical questions that require a written response. Patrons will be charged $10 for the first hour of search time, with additional fees for longer searches. Fees would not apply to genealogists who come into the Westminster library and use the county collection.
"Most genealogists are used to paying for the service," said Makosky. "I don't think this will stop anyone from continuing their search."
The new fee, which goes into effect immediately, should generate about $3,000 for the library.
Genealogical patrons -- local or out-of-state -- will also be charged $3 for each microfilm ordered from the Census Microfilm Rental Program. The fee should recoup the $450 per year the library spends on this service.