Herzberg requests county funding increase on behalf of Villisca Library

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors is considering a funding request from the Villisca Public Library.
At the regular meeting Jan. 24, Villisca Library Director Martha Herzberg met with the supervisors to make the funding request, as well as share an annual report for 2022.
“Our mission is to inform, enrich, and empower our community, and we provide a lot of services for the community that a lot of people don’t realize,” Herzberg said.
The library has 15,568 books, audio books, videos, and puzzles, and also has 138,422 electronic items, such as e-books, and downloadable videos, as well as internet, printer, and fax access for patrons.
Herzberg added she reapplied to be a certified librarian, and is now certified until 2025. The library itself also has a distinctive designation.
“The library is accredited at the highest level, tier three, and we have to re-apply for that accreditation by Feb. 1, 2025. We have nine  individual volunteers who worked a total of 140 hours in 2022,” commented Herzberg.
The library is open every day but Sunday and Monday, and currently provides services for 1,918 patrons.
“Our website received 1,009 hits and searches in 2022, and we had 1,918 in-person visits to the library. We also had 10 library museum visits or tours, due to the fact that we have a lot of memorabilia from the Villisca Axe Murder house,” explained Herzberg. “We also held 103 programs for kids of all ages in 2022, and had a total of 6,182 total attendees at the library programs. We also provided home delivery of library materials to 43 patrons.”
The Villisca Library serves not only the Villisca community, it also serves the 581 rural residents of the Douglas Township, the East Township, and the Washington Township. Also, through the Enrich Iowa program, all Iowa residents could have access and use a Villisca library card.
Herzberg stressed that the free library was not free, and the library received operational funding from the City of Villisca, the State of Iowa, and the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, as well as other intermittent sources.
“We have additional funding that comes from memorials and grants, but those are special purpose and irregular. Some years we receive a lot, and sometimes we don’t. State funding also fluctuates from year to year depending on how many loan transitions with patrons that we have.”
Since 2018, the library has received $7,645 in funding from the county. Herzberg was proposing a potential increase in the funding.
“A 5% increase would raise it to roughly $8,027, an increase of $382. That would allow us to buy around 12 additional large print books for the library. Unfortunately, our patrons are aging in the community, and the large print books are the most popular to check out,” Herzberg advised. “Everyone can read large print. In the cases of some of the paperbacks, the print is very small and hard to read.”
If the supervisors approved a 4% increase, the funding would be $7,951, an increase of $306, which could purchase 10 large print books. A 3% increase would make the total funding $7,872, or $229 in total, allowing the purchase of seven large print books. Also an option was a 2% increase, raising the total funding to $7,798, a $153 increase, which could purchase five large print books.
“I’m going with an average price of $29.99 per book for the large print books as the basis for my figures. The large print books are a little more expensive than your average bestseller, but they are worth it in the end,” Herzberg said.
Herzberg said they were still working on their library budget, and requested the 3% increase, so they could purchase seven new large print books per year. She also expressed her appreciation for the past support of the supervisors, and hoped they continued to value the service the library provided to the community.
No further action on the request was taken.

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