Telluride Library Closing on Sundays: A HUGE Mistake

I am personally not seeking to scorn or ridicule the library board, and believe they’re acting with the best of intentions; however, I do believe they’re simply wrong on the decision to close on Sundays as it relates to the original voter mandate to support a library via a special taxing district. The basic elements of this original “bargain” with electorate have been compromised by electing to close basic library services for a day in favor offering taxpayer subsidized services to special interest groups (who might otherwise be forced to pay directly for said services) in the context of a community center or other institution.

It’s still mind blowing to me that board members are unable (or unwilling) to connect the dots between free programming & increased patron usage along such lines. Implement a “pay your way” programming model and then bring per capita usage numbers back to the discussion. Of course, people are going to attend programs which don’t require any fees for food, yoga, music, meditation, day care, etc. Of course, after-care (for profit) businesses will use the library as a free and convenient resource. Of course, individuals looking to jump start their individual consulting business, etc. will use the library to hold seminars as a community service and to possibly drum up new clients.

I’m not saying any of these uses are inherently wrong by any stretch, they just need to pay their own way not siphon taxpayer funds away from basic core library services – which ought to trump all other considerations.

Having attended the joint BOCC & Library Board meeting it was more than evident the overwhelming & vast majority members of the community who voice their opinion were clearly in opposition to a Sunday closure and it seemed to fall upon deaf ears as far as the board is concerned. It was extremely frustrating and slapped of paternalism. I applaud the county commissioners for pursuing such a venue, but the reality of the situation is the community has zero recourse unless we want to be patronized at a monthly PR meeting (another waste of time, except for maybe those who are seeking to pitch new ideas for programming).

Given the way special interests have infested sooooooooo many facets of governing bodies & official decisions in the region, I can see why Eileen might possibly look at things through a lens of “conspiracy theories” to explain why some things happen the way they do. However, if forced to explain the “why” in this case, I would offer the possibility of the board simply being afraid to rock Barbara’s boat and avoiding conflict with anyone else who might have come to rely upon the programming. I personally would have zero apprehension to take out the red pen and start the process of scaling back programming and related expenses. I’m sure just about everyone in attendance of the joint meeting would say the same.

Perhaps none of us could craft an all inclusive definition regarding “what a library is” in today’s age; however, I’m willing to bet that even most young kids would point to it when asked, and many could tell you it’s now closed on Sunday’s.

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