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LETTER: Support bill that helps rural public libraries

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email sgeisen@parkrapidsenterprise.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

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Do you ever wonder how your local public library is funded or who pays for the books, computers, librarians and internet?

As a previous president of the board of Lake Agassiz Regional Library (LARL) for five years, I could tell you all about something called Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) — that’s the underlying Minnesota legislative mechanism that provides state funding to our libraries, large and small.

There’s a funding formula issue with this mechanism, one HF1710/SF1131 will resolve. It’s a rare piece of legislation that garners bipartisan support, has the full support of all 13 regional library systems in Minnesota, and has the support of the League of Minnesota Cities fiscal futures committee. This legislation can correct an issue that has lingered since 2008 which disproportionately impacts rural Minnesota’s public libraries.

Why should taxpayers care about library funding via RLBSS? It’s the foundation upon which our library system is built. The role of public libraries continues to evolve to meet the changing environment of technology, pandemics, education and early learning, and local community needs and economics. It is critical that Minnesota’s funding of public library systems undergoes much-needed structural repairs via HF1710/SF1131 because libraries are a vital piece of our infrastructure.

Creating Minnesota’s regional library system 60 years ago was visionary. Those of us in rural Becker County, Fosston, Twin Valley and other small towns benefit from the collective strength and resources of systems like LARL. Many of these communities would be without libraries if not for the funding provided by the legislature. Those funds ensure that the elderly, children and families have access to materials and programs that enrich their lives.

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Public libraries redefine opportunity. Opportunity for all who desire it. Whether it’s to learn, rest and get warm, apply for veteran’s benefits or health insurance, look for a job, attend a cultural event, read the New York Times, or simply reflect — there’s no other place in town better suited than the local public library.

Why should the legislature support this funding change for public libraries? Countless programs, services and infrastructure needs are all competing for tax dollars. But, none are more worthy than those which seek to raise the bar for all people in rural areas and cities than our public libraries. This is the investment that will best prepare Minnesota for its future and that of all who desire an opportunity.

Please contact your legislators and ask them to support HF1710 and SF1131. Then stop in to experience all that’s happening at the library.

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The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email sgeisen@parkrapidsenterprise.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email sgeisen@parkrapidsenterprise.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email sgeisen@parkrapidsenterprise.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email sgeisen@parkrapidsenterprise.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.