Librarians Weigh In On Proposed Legislation

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Librarians Weigh In On Proposed Legislation

Libraries across the Hoosier state could be feeling the impact of two bills working their way through the State House right now.

One of those bills, House Bill 1343, would give the fiscal body of a city, town, or county with a library complete oversight of that budget.

“And this additional oversight I think is maybe just a little overkill,” says Trista Smith, Newburg Chandler Public Library director. “I think it’s really important to make sure we are being responsible, but I do think we have a lot of stuff in place, a lot of processes in place that already ensure that we are doing what we need to do.”

But Tri-State librarians are concerned about the financial impact these bills could have. “We put money in a rainy day fund every year just in case,” says Smith. “You know we have this beautiful building and god forbid the heating and air went out or any kind of large repair, you know we need to have that outside of our operating budget and that’s really important.”

But not every library system shares the same concerns.

The EVPL released a statement saying in the part-the bill would likely have little to no impact on EVPL branches for a couple of reasons.

Among them, there are already several levels of financial oversight in place with both the local government and the state, and the EVPL has a healthy reserve fund in case of emergencies.

Senate Bill 64 was authored by local Senator Jim Tomes.

It would require libraries to conduct an annual background check on anyone who interacts with children under 14.

Senator Tomes said in part because libraries often serve as an extension of school-background checks should be required.

But local librarians say performing those checks is costly and there are already safeguards in place.

“It’s intention is good you know making sure we have the appropriate people around our children is important, but I think it just steps a little over what’s reasonable to expect from a library,” says Smith.

House Bill 1343 is scheduled for another committee hearing Thursday.

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