A e-book shortage in the First Regional Library system, one of the state's flagship systems, has been caused by budget cuts and First Regional Library System Director Meredith Wickham said the library system is appealing to cities like Hernando, headquarters for the five-county branch, to shore up funds.
The library system is asking city governments to help with planned increases in e-books, cultural programming and sustained maintenance of programs.
Aldermen are asked to consider an 8-percent increase in their allocation to the library, to $140,000 from their current allocation of $129,118.
Library officials are making the case for at least a 4-percent increase in support for FY2019, or about $5,441. "Any increase in our allocation would be used to cover increasing costs for personnel, technology, utilities, and books, especially electronic books (ebooks)," Wickham said.
"Your people want e-books," Wickham told Hernando aldermen at their most recent meeting. "They are plugged in."
Wickham said library officials have received at least 75 complaints since March about the lack of e-books or a drastically-reduced selection.
Wickham said publishers, in general, are not "thrilled" with e-books, which compete with hardbacks and softcovers on the shelves, so as a result they are charging libraries more for them.
Ward 2 Alderman Andrew Miller said it's unfair for smaller cities like Hernando to have to dole out more because larger cities in DeSoto County "have more to give per capita."
DeSoto County Government contributes $1.322 million for all five county libraries which are divided up on a pro rata share based on population.
Miller reminded Wickham that the City of Hernando assisted the First Regional Library system with its phone and telecommunications system last year over and above its budget request.
Wickham said she was appreciative for all that city officials had done and contributed to the Hernando Public Library, but pointed out that the Hernando Public Library has $26,000 less in purchasing power than it had 10 years ago.
Hernando officials are currently planning their budget for the new fiscal year and took the library's request for a fund increase under advisement.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252