Walla Walla library contract approved

The deal reached Thursday means county residents will have access to the city library in 2012.

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WALLA WALLA -- County residents will have access to the city library next year.

The Walla Walla County Rural Library District board on Thursday approved a 2012 contract, 4-1.

The contract was a counteroffer from the city earlier this month. Board member Stephen Ames cast the dissenting vote.

The contract requires the county to pay the city $245,000 as a reimbursement for allowing county residents to check out materials from the Walla Walla Public Library.

It also requires both agencies to "work together during 2012 to develop a long-term consolidated or cooperative library plan," which would serve residents of both jurisdictions.

A missing key element, however, is the ability to renew the contract in subsequent years.

Walla Walla Mayor Barbara Clark was hopeful both agencies could still come up with a formula and avoid negotiations for 2013.

"We all hope that we will, in the course of negotiations and trying to plan some sort of consolidated or coordinated library system, that we will figure out a way to do this ... hopefully we won't go down to the wire next year," Clark said today.

The contract will not affect the city's plan to leave the WALNET consortium, a move that will deny access by city residents to some 120,000 holdings of the Rural Library District and Walla Walla Community College Library.

A Union-Bulletin article last Sunday inaccurately reported the city is leaving WALNET to save money.

In an email this week, Library Director Beth Hudson clarified that while the city will save $6,000, the savings isn't the reason for leaving.

Hudson's email did not provide the reason for leaving WALNET, but did list the city's ultimatum to remain in the consortium: "If an agreement for establishment of a regional library system or adoption of a reliable funding formula is not concluded by September 1, 2011, the WWPL's membership in WALNET is terminated as of December 31, 2011."

The city's withdrawal from WALNET will lead to new library cards for all Walla Walla Public Library users.

Other ramifications include no more holding and shipping of books between the city and the college and library district. City residents also will not be able to review WALNET holdings online.

County residents will still have access to city books via their new city library cards.

City residents will have the option to buy a WALNET card for $40, but they will not be able to have material sent to the Walla Walla Library as was possible through the expiring WALNET agreement.

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