Library Board Oks Video Fee, Lawyer Referral

March 29, 1992|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

GREENMOUNT — Seeking alternate sources of revenue, Carroll's library board of trustees Wednesday narrowly accepted starting two new "profit centers."

Trustees voted, 3-2, to operate a lawyer referral service and, on a 4-1 vote, decided to charge $1 for some videos. The fees will be upfor renewal by the board after one year.

"The main purpose for adding (these) is to get additional revenue," conceded Martha M. Makosky, library director. "I was personally against fees three years ago. But when you see a 24 percent reduction in your book budget, staff getting furloughed and libraries closing --not by any ill will of the legislators or commissioners -- you look at things differently."

The lawyer referral service, provided by the state bar association until a few years ago, has been bitterly debated. Some trustees were uncomfortable with the ethics of the system,in which attorneys accredited by the local bar association would pay$75 to be added to the reference list available through the library.

Patrons would call the referral number, which would not be identified as a library service, and be connected through a conference callwith a lawyer who specializes in the type of law they need.

The lawyer would give a free half-hour consultation. A $25 fee would go tothe library once a client hires an attorney from the referral. The library would receive part of the lawyers' fees in some cases.

Trustee Henry Romanowski said this was a service he might not use, but others would.

"I've always done my own income taxes, but a lot of people go somewhere else to have them done," he said.

Trustee Eugenia Gartrell and V. Lanny Harchenhorn voted against the motion, while board president Marty Hankins abstained. Member Nancy Zeleski, who strongly opposed the service last month, was absent.

Charging $1 for some videos -- movie titles -- was a bit more palatable since the program will put money into buying more films.

"This way we can have our cake and eat it, too," Makosky said.

She said patrons will have a choice: Rent a movie in the rental collection or borrow a copy from the regular, free collection.

Board members agreed to authorizebuying 200 new releases per branch at $38 each for the rental collection. The library branches will buy several copies of each title and place one in the free collection.

Rental videos will eventually berotated into the free collection when circulation drops for those films.

For the first three months, profits will be used to expand the rental collection. Eventually, the fees will be used to rebuild thebook budget, offset the need for staff to take a furlough day and purchase films for the regular collection.

"As it is now, people won't have a chance to see it at all because we don't have the money to buy them," Makosky said.

Harchenhorn voted against the motion, while member Mary Lou Dewey -- who has always strongly opposed video fees -- abstained.

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