As I See It
Study library merger, but carefully
The La Crosse public library is once again at a crossroads. It was three years ago that the city considered closing one or more of the library branches in order to balance the budget. The library system was saved thanks to local support, but in the next city budget, the library system again faces a deficit. Mayor Tim Kabat is proposing regionalizing the library system, basically merging the city library system with the county system. He envisions a system where the county takes over the library system, which would continue to operate branches in the city of La Crosse. He is right, that such a plan would likely save taxpayers money, and would again put the library system on sound financial footing. We should be looking at ways to better share services. The county’s reception to the idea has been a bit chilly so far. County administrator Steve O’Malley seems hurt the mayor didn’t bring the idea to him, and Board Chair Tara Johnson says she is disappointed with the mayor’s plan, although she is willing to consider it. She proposes the appointment of a study committee for up to a year to map out the possibility of a library merger. Mayor Kabat wants this done by June, but that seems ambitious. Let’s talk about this important issue, but make sure we allocate the time necessary to give this the attention it deserves.