Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

The Lemonade Stand of Broken Dreams?

How early is too early to find out the world doesn’t really care about your interests, wants, desires, or needs? 30? 25? 17?

I have a strange feeling that in Berkley, Massachusetts, the age is going to be around 9, because that’s the age of one of the girls who are selling lemonade to save the local public library from closing.

In June, Berkley voters “will choose between two override versions — an Option A to raise an additional $950,000 and Option B that would generate an additional $675,000.” and according to those who should know “adopting the more expensive override version is the only guarantee of avoiding ‘critical cuts’ — including closing the library….”

With a population of “around 6,500 residents,” that’s a cost of about $146 per person.

At one point in the recent past, the town had 1,970 households. That adds up to about $482 per household in a town where the median household income is around $81,094.

The lemonade stand run by the passionate little girl netted $600 for the library, which covers her household obligation plus a little bit more.

Everyone was appreciative, the selectmen, the library director, and probably everyone who paid more than the minimum to get their cup of lemonade. Now she just needs the few thousand voters in town to vote for it. Will they?

I’m predicting not, although I’ll be happy if I’m wrong.

Why? Well, maybe every tiny little town just doesn’t need a separate public library.

Part of the reason the library needs money is because the town owes $673,000 to the Somerset-Berkley Regional School District. Why? Because it doesn’t have a high school of its own, presumably because it’s too small to support one..

Possibly it never had a high school, because the students attended the high school in Somerset, until 2011 when they formed a regional school district.

Somerset’s only about 10 miles away from Berkley, and if the high school students can go to school there, why couldn’t the rest of the residents use the library there?

I’m assuming that’s possible, anyway, since the Somerset library is part of the SAILS Library Network, and it looks like anyone can get a card for that, although “If you live outside of MA, you may be assessed a fee for a library card.”

Even if Berkley residents can’t get a free card once they don’t have a library, it seems unlikely that they would have to pay $482 for a library card from another nearby library.

If all else fails, they could probably strike a deal to give their current library taxes to Somerset and form a “regional” library system in what is a very small region.

Maybe they will vote to tax themselves almost a million dollars. This isn’t Oregon, after all, where, by the way, Kind Reader informs me that yet another county library might be closing because nobody wants to pay for it.

Massachusetts might not be as hostile to public services as Oregon, but Bristol County, MA has five times the population and 47 times the population density of Douglas County, OR.

Having a little library in every little town might not make much economic sense, even if they had a successful lemonade stand every day of the year.

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