Books? Check. Building? Check. Budget? Nope.
Thanks to a $16,500 grant from the CHC Foundation, Tetonia now has a building for a library, as well as plenty of donated books, but the library committee has learned that funding the day-to-day operations will be a little more complicated.
There has long been support for a library on the north end of the valley. Tetonia approached the Valley of the Tetons Library in February and discussed the installation of a library drop box, but even that was expensive and didn’t mean Tetonia residents could rent books in town. City clerk and avid reader Jacque Beard applied for the CHC grant this spring, a move her fellow committee member Carol Lenz described as “shoot for the moon.” Beard was extremely excited to receive word in July that the project was fully funded. A small pre-fabricated building with inviting gray walls, adjustable shelving, and quaint white trim was installed and hooked up in the southeast corner of the Ruby Carson Memorial Park in July, and the city is making plans for some landscaping around the building.
The city council and library committee agreed that the city would provide utilities, debated the library’s name, and discussed putting out a call for volunteers, while book donations flooded in, quickly filling part of the garage at city hall.
However, upon doing some more research, the committee members discovered that, because the county already has a library taxing district, the City of Tetonia cannot provide monetary support to the library, because that would make Tetonia residents the victims of double taxation.
The committee met with the Valley of the Tetons Library board of trustees and director earlier this month, and VotL professed an interest in absorbing the Tetonia library in a year, after it was successfully established. VotTL just finalized its FY2020 budget and will now focus on finding a new home for the Driggs library once its lease for the building on North Main Street ends.
“They don’t have the money to support us right now,” Mayor Gloria Hoopes said about VotTL. “But they were very enthused about taking it over at some point in the future.”
“I really do believe that the library board and the taxing district will make this library a branch of the district,” Lenz added. “But right now operating income and staffing will be the issue.”
For now, the Tetonia library must be run independently, with a memorandum of understanding with the city for rent and utilities, which will be the library’s main operating expense. Beard said the biggest need will be for volunteers to staff the library and monetary donations.
The library committee’s next meeting will be on Aug. 19. Interested members of the community should contact Beard at firstname.lastname@example.org.