Libraries – the lifeblood of a community

Libraries are vibrant parts of a healthy community.Shown: Flagler County Library Photo Credit: Kevin Fair

Libraries are vibrant parts of a healthy community.
Shown: Flagler County Library
Photo Credit: Kevin Fair

This blog is about fun things to do – from cooking to travel to hobbies. Although most of us may utilize the internet to do research as we search and learn about new “fun stuff.”   Our local libraries are often the center of activities for many members of our communities and provide services, both electronic and in hard copy, that help push us along the way.

Recently our community library has been battling budget cuts beyond belief. A recent presentation to our County Commission brought out many members of the Friends of the Library, including yours truly.  I had to take the time to post here the response of our dedicated and creative Library Director, Holly Albanese, to share her beautiful message.

“I would like to thank you all for supporting the Flagler County Public Library.  As you know we had an overwhelming number of Friends members in the audience last night at the regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.  It is also my understanding that many more that were unable to attend the meeting sent emails to the Commissioners in support of the library.  Jim Ulsamer, Chair of the Library Board of Trustees, gave his annual report which is indicative of a library system that can no longer sustain with further budget cuts and is in dire need of a stable source of funding for the future of the library system. 

As the Director it has been a difficult six almost seven years since I started here in Flagler County.  I have been hit with a loss in State Aid; annual budget cuts; closing hours; antiquated technology; loss of staff in an already under-staffed library system;  a facility in need of maintenance; vandalism and the eventual razing of the gazebo which was an almost iconic structure in this community.  Actually the gazebo was the very essence of community as it was a labor of love built and paid for by community volunteers. 

However in an effort to enhance services at a time when the well of tax dollars was dry and unemployment was at record numbers, the staff of the library went above and beyond by bringing in non tax revenue through our passport service and grants to pay for new technology.  Technology that has helped so many in so many different ways including applying for unemployment, a job, food stamps or just allowing them to stay in touch with family members through email.  So it hurts when uninformed residents refer to the library as a “luxury” and make statements that we should raise our own money, compare us to St. Johns and imply that we are not being innovative.  This is simply not true!  Flagler County Public Library won a national and regional award for our innovative passport service which has raised over $200,000 since its inception.  In 2011 we added an e-retailer through our automated card catalog system.  If we don’t own it you can purchase through our system and a percent of the proceeds benefits the library materials budget.   Finally there is the idea of the library café which has not come to fruition as of yet but would also be innovative and provide more non-tax dollar revenue. 

So it is only through the support of the Friends, the Library Board of Trustees and a highly dedicated staff that I have not lost hope and truly believe we can turn this ship around.  Your support last night reminded me that I am not alone nor am I the only one that is passionate about the library.  I look forward to working together and reminding everyone that “we” are a community and the library is the very heart of that community and deserves the support of the public it serves.

Thank you again from a very humbled public servant,”

Holly Albanese

Library Director
Flagler County Public Library

Thanks Holly, staff and volunteers for all that you do to keep our library alive!

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3 responses to “Libraries – the lifeblood of a community

  1. Reblogged this on FWA Palm Coast Chapter and commented:

    FWA/Palm Coast – Support our libraries!

  2. Great Post, pics and all. Nice to know what is happening locally. I use the Library and have learned to borrow ebooks to my Kindle, however who knew there was trouble in the book shelves. Keep informing us, please

    • Thanks for visiting, Claudia. Be sure to read the articles of interest at the end of my post about “bookless libraries.” The first one of its kind has opened in Texas recently! The future for sure…..