Library programs coordinator Marlee Johnson reads a story to Shane

Library programs coordinator Marlee Johnson reads a story to Shane

Houston council urged to increase Library funding

A Houston resident came to the council meeting last Tuesday praising the Public Library and urging council to reconsider additional funding.

A Houston resident urged council to reconsider the Library’s request for a $9,500 increase in their annual grant.

“I was extremely disappointed at council’s decision not to fund the Library the $9,500 for their budget, which I feel is very low to start with,” Dwayne Erhardt told council last Tuesday.

The District of Houston funds 70 percent of the Houston Public Library budget, and on Dec. 12, the Library requested a nine percent increase, $9,500 to deal with increased costs and maintain their current level of programming.

Council declined the requested increase, opting to lend the Library the services of the Houston Grant Writer Valerie Anderson, and then revisit the discussion in March at their next budget meeting.

Not speaking on behalf of any organization, Erhardt told council he felt the Library funding would be well-spent money.

“[It’s] one of the least expensive ventures to operate that the District of Houston is involved in.

“[The requested $9,500] would allow them to keep operating at their current levels.

“At a time when our community is taking the huge financial hit that it is, it would be money well spent – far better then ever considering a casino in our community,” Erhardt said.

“It is one place in Houston where everyone can afford to go.

“It is much more then Library books. Programs that are offered at our Library today are an extension of our education system and much, much more,” he said adding that the Library has over 1,500 members and had over 22,000 visits in 2013.

“Our Library was started in 1924. The local paper of the day stated that it was one of the most successful features in Houston. That is still true today,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Jonathan Van Barneveld said the budget would not be finalized until March.

“The grant writer is going to be working hard with the Library to find any additional funding that could be available to them,” he said.

William Wallace, Houston Director of Finance said council had previously agreed to revisit the Library discussion in March.

Council wanted grant investigation to be done first, then they would find out how that investigation went and then discuss whether to increase the Library grant, Wallace said.