St. Joseph County Public Library will now charge an annual fee for guest cards
The St. Joseph County Public Library has announced new rates for guest library cards, meaning some county residents will go from nothing to $ 50 a year.
The library’s taxed service area includes all of South Bend, parts of Granger, parts of Mishawaka, all of North Liberty, and all of Lakeville.
Marissa Gebhard, the library’s communications manager, said the Indiana Library Association sets guest card fees for residents without a home library to which they pay taxes at $ 85 per year. For example, this includes Madison Township in St. Joseph County and all out-of-state residents.
All Indiana residents with a home library are eligible for a reduced annual guest card of $ 65.
But previously, residents living in the service areas of the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library and the Township of New Carlisle-Olive Public Library were given free guest card access to the County Public Library. of St. Joseph as part of a reciprocal agreement.
Starting in June, they will have to pay $ 50 per year for a guest access card. This new reciprocal card rate also applies to the Township of Walkerton-Lincoln Public Library and residents of Center, North, Polk, West and German Townships in Marshall County.
Gebhard said the new fees are needed to cover the costs of providing library services to residents outside the library tax district.
“With costs rising and revenue decreasing, we just need a little cash from those outside our service area to cover some of our personal service costs. outside of our service area, ”she said.
The library recently eliminated all fines and late fees for all cardholders as part of an effort to increase access, but Gebhard said this had not had a significant impact on the budget.
Instead, she pointed to the county’s new consolidated 911 center. Taxes were not increased to fund it – instead, existing revenues were shifted and the library lost about $ 600,000 per year.
“Not getting a fine didn’t have as big a financial impact as the 911 center,” she said. “It was a huge blow to our budget – so when we have huge successes like that, we just have to make the bottom line work one way or another.”
Non-resident teachers and students over 18 are still entitled to free guest cards, and children under 17 are entitled to a free, limited-access guest card that allows five books to be viewed at the same time. time.
Guest card holders can access normal library services, including unlimited rental of books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, video games, e-books, audiobooks, digital magazines and County Parks Discovery Passes.
Free services without a library card include tax assistance, visiting the library itself, participating in library programs, and attending library events.
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