Library changes already felt

The city's decision to leave a local consortium is cutting access to holdings throughout the area.

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WALLA WALLA - City and county library patrons are already feeling the effects of a major change due to start in 2012.

This week, the three library agencies that make up the WALNET Consortium - Walla Walla Public Library, Walla Walla County Rural Library District and Walla Walla Community College Library - stopped loaning materials to one another's patrons because in 2012 the city of Walla Walla is pulling out of WALNET.

For Amy Davis-Bruner, who lives in a remote area of the county, the change already means she can no longer go to one library to pick up her children's materials.

"We come into the city library, and we look at all the written material, audio visual material, and we reserve units of information, and that information is coming from all the libraries. … (the change) is unacceptable to us as a family because our main source of information is the Walla Walla library," Davis-Bruner said.

This week, the mother and home-schooler of three children said she received a call from the Rural Library District informing her she would have to travel to one of the district's branches to pick up her material, instead of using the more convenient city library.

Previously, the consortium allowed WALNET card holders to request materials from any of the three agencies' holdings, and have those materials sent to any branch.

"We are easing into that change by switching holds from ‘the next copy available' to the specific copy owned by the cardholder's library," city library Director Beth Hudson said.

What that means is city library cardholders can check out only city library holdings, and district and community college card holders can check out only what their two agencies have in their holdings. The community college and Rural Library District will continue to maintain their borrowing relationship throughout next year.

The city's decision to pull out is independent of whether a 2012 reimbursement contract is worked out between the city and Rural Library District.

The reason the city is leaving WALNET is to save money.

"We will maintain our KOHA (online card catalogue for patrons) system but save $6,280 over 2011's budget and at least that much under the yet-to-be-determined WALNET fees for 2012," Hudson said.

There are other repercussions from the city's withdrawal from WALNET, and at least one advantage for residents of College Place and Milton-Freewater.

Because of the WALNET agreement and the current 2011 city reimbursement contract, Adams said the Rural Library District did not offer non-resident library cards.

That will change in 2012 with the addition of a $40 non-resident Rural Library District card, which can be offered to residents of College Place, Milton-Freewater or others who do not live in the unincorporated areas of Walla Walla County.

"We will still use our WALNET card; we found that we can use a little sharpie to go through that one line (the Walla Walla Library listing). It would be wasteful to throw them away" said Punkey Adams of the Rural Library District.

Hudson said the city plans to replace all its patrons' WALNET cards with new city library cards.

Probably the biggest change will be that city and county residents will have access to fewer holdings.

Walla Walla residents, however, will be able to buy WALNET cards. So far, there has been no reciprocal offer by the city of Walla Walla to county residents.

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

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