Council rejects district's library offer

The Council approved a different potential contract that would need Rural Library District approval.

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WALLA WALLA -- After a somewhat heated review of yet another proposed library contract, the City Council said no to the Walla Walla County Rural Library District's latest offer, which means county residents still face losing their borrowing privileges at the start of the year.

At their regular meeting, Council refused to consider a $245,000 reimbursement contract approved by the district earlier that day.

Their reason?

The district had added a stipulation that the city and district form a committee to develop a plan for a joint library district; the proposed contract also detailed who could serve on the committee, which would have included Council members, district board members, an educator and state library professional, but no library staff.

City legal staff advised the Council not to approve the contract because of the mandated committee and its lack of city library professionals.

"You wouldn't plan a hospital without doctors or nurses, and I don't see planning a library without library staff," Walla Walla Public Library Director Beth Hudson testified to the Council.

Rural Library District interim Executive Director Aletha Bonebrake defended the district's committee requirement and noted that not only did the city turn down a previous $200,000 offer, but city officials have said they may not allow county residents to buy city library cards next year.

"Because the city did not wish to accept that ($200,000 offer) and because the city threw out a number of barriers ... we decided to come back with a larger offer, not just to provide for those citizens for the next year, but to change," Bonebrake said.

Council members did vote 6-1, with Shane Laib dissenting, to approve a new contract proposal for the same amount, but without the committee stipulation.

The proposal will now go back to the Rural Library District board members for consideration and voting.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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