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State Auditor Adam Edelen’s recently released report on special taxing districts in Kentucky described public libraries as models of transparency and accountability.
Edelen specifically cites the work of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) and the Kentucky Public Library Association (KPLA) in promoting good governance in libraries.
“KDLA and KPLA put a great deal of effort to provide the public with as much transparency and accountability as possible,” states Edelen’s report.
KPLA Chair Susan Nimersheim is very pleased with the report’s findings, “Public libraries are really one of the best returns on tax dollars that you have. This report verifies that libraries are excellent stewards of the public’s trust.”
The state auditor’s report lists libraries as the first best-case scenario in good governance.
Edelen specifically notes the extensive report that each public library submits to KDLA each year. The annual report to KDLA details both the library’s financial statements and performance in terms of circulation, programming and usage of facilities.
“There were over 20 million visits to Kentucky’s public libraries this past year,” said Nimersheim. “The usage of library services just continues to climb.”
The trustee training and certification program is also highlighted in the report. This system provides a minimum of five hours of training in various aspects of library governance including finances, policies, and planning.
“Library trustees are local people who understand they are responsible for providing the services that people need efficiently,” said Kentucky Library Trustee Roundtable chair Steve Marcum. “Most of us become trustees because we love the things libraries do for our communities, but we find out that there’s a lot of responsibility in ensuring accountability in the use of taxpayer dollars.”
KDLA requires each library to submit a copy of its audit before state aid funds will be released.
“The audits require a qualified accountant to review our finances thoroughly,” said Nimersheim.
KDLA also creates a monthly “Trustee Tip” to keep library trustees informed on Open Meetings and Open Records statutes, library policies, and tax rate questions.
“We are so grateful for the work of KDLA,” said Nimersheim. “The level of service that they provide to libraries is phenomenal.”
The full report from the state auditor is available online at www.citizenauditor.ky.gov
The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) is a state agency under the Education and Workforce Cabinet. The Kentucky Library Trustee Roundtable (KLTRT) is part of the Kentucky Public Library Association (KPLA). KPLA is a section of the Kentucky Library Association (KLA) which brings together library workers in academic, school, and public libraries across the state.
In 2010-11, the 118 public library districts operating in Kentucky provided 634,000 hours of service, operated 77 bookmobiles in remote areas of the state, circulated over 30 million items, and received 20 million visitors. More than 2.5 million Kentuckians have a public library card.
The Washington County Public Library provides over 2,000 hours a year of service to the community including a bookmobile that travels throughout Springfield, Mackville and Willisburg to homes, community agencies and daycares. More than 5,000 items a month circulate to the 7,700 registered library card holders. Monthly the public library in Washington County has approximately 3,000 citizens visit the public library for material, computer access, classes, programs and events, not only from the area but also across the country for genealogy research.