Library Board passes proposal for new policy change

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Yesterday, the Teton County Library Board approved two changes to the library policies. At its monthly public meeting, in October, the Teton County Library Board requested that library staff examine potential changes to the Library Policy for Children and the Out-of-County Library Card Policy, after a review of all existing library policies. Staff recommended that the Out-of-County Library Card policy remains unchanged. Further, staff recommended that in the first quarter of 2016, a staff committee examines procedures for obtaining or renewing a library card to minimize barriers while adhering to the current policy. In November, library staff administered an informal study of patron interactions, when either renewing or getting a library card. It revealed some important information about the policy. Rather than highlighting significant dismay or a sense that the $20 fee is a significant cost burden from out-of-county residents, which would indicate a need to broaden the residency requirements, the study demonstrated that there may be aspects of the procedures regarding this policy that create barriers for obtaining or renewing a library card, whether a County resident library card or an Out-of-County library card. As a public library, Teton County Library aims for a seamless patron experience that supports reasonably uninterrupted cardholder access to the wide range of resources and materials it offers. It’s also important that members of the greater Jackson Hole community feel welcome to use the space, resources, services and to attend programs, and that they don’t encounter onerous obstacles when trying to do so. “The vast majority of the library’s public funding comes from property tax dollars from Teton County, Wyoming. So, having the terms of the County resident library card defined by County property lines makes sense,” said Julia Hysell, the library’s Communications Manager. “We recognize, however, that there’s a larger and really important community question raised by the policy: How is our ‘local community’ defined? We definitely want to be involved in discussing this question with library patrons, members of the community, other organizations and community leaders. But, it can’t be answered with the Out-of-County Library Card policy.” For the library policy for children, staff recommended: 1. Considering an addition to the current policy. Specifically, that the caregiver of a child under 8 be at least 12 years of age. 2. A 60 day public comment period from Wednesday, January 6 - Wednesday, March 2, 2016. This period encourages maximum opportunity for public comment, as it ends prior to Spring Break. 3. If a policy change is approved by the Library Board, implement at the start of the School Year 2016-2017. With this recommended addition to current policy library staff hopes to: 1. Bring library policy to par with best practices employed at Wyoming Department of Family Service to ensure the safety of everyone in the library. 2. Use the public comment period as an opportunity to elevate the community-level challenge of ensuring that there are enough safe and affordable – as well as supervised and structured – afterschool activity options for elementary school-age kids to meet the community’s need for them. 3. Elicit potential solutions to help inform library policies, procedures and practices as well as those of partner agencies and organizations. “The Library Board and staff recognize that the proposed policy change is not the ultimate solution,” said Interim Director Isabel Zumel. “But we hope it can help to develop strategies that address the problem at the both library level and the community level.” *Feature Photo: h/t Teton County Library / Pitchengine Communities* #buckrail #news