Support sought for library bill

February 17, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- Carroll County public libraries need more state money to buy books and materials, the library director and a former board member told lawmakers yesterday.

Library Director Linda Mielke and Mary Lou Dewey, a Carroll library board of trustees member for 35 years, asked local delegates to support legislation that would give the counties more money.

If the legislation passes, Carroll could receive $300,000 more in the next fiscal year than it did this year, Ms. Mielke said. Carroll received $417,126 from the state this year.

She and Mrs. Dewey said, however, that they expect lawmakers to think the requested increases are too high. Del. Donald B. Elliott, a Republican who represents Carroll and Howard counties, said he agreed.

"Certainly there's room for negotiation," Ms. Mielke said.

Currently, the state gives each county $7.25 per resident to spend on libraries. House Bill 70 and Senate Bill 469 would increase that amount to $12 per resident.

If the measures pass, Carroll's libraries would get about $700,000 in state money, Ms. Mielke said.

She and Mrs. Dewey spoke to members of the Carroll delegation in their offices.

"We're asking for support," Ms. Mielke said.

Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Carroll Democrat, said, "You have my support."

Mrs. Dewey, who also is vice president of Citizens for Maryland Libraries, said the Carroll library system needs to update its collection. "We really are getting desperate," she said.

The library has cut its book budget every year since 1991, when the recession began, and it will be difficult to make up for the losses, Mrs. Dewey said.

Increased state aid would make a real difference in Carroll, which circulates more library materials than any other system in Maryland, Ms. Mielke said.

Del. Richard C. Matthews, a Carroll Republican, said, "We're truly the county that reads."

If the legislation passes, state aid to local libraries statewide could increase by $10 million in fiscal 1995, from $15.3 million to $25.3 million, according to state Department of Fiscal Services figures.

Testimony on the House bill, sponsored by Del. Sheila Ellis Hixson, a Montgomery County Democrat, was heard in the Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 2. The committee has not voted on it.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Laurence Levitan, also a Montgomery County Democrat, was assigned to the Budget and Taxation Committee.

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