Henderson County Clint W. Murchsion Memoral Library Librarian Michelle Zenor told Henderson County Commissioners Court, Tuesday, her department persevered through COVID-19 during the past year and is picking up steam for 2022.
Zenor was the first department head to present to Commissioners Court during the first budget workshop of the year.
“There are more than 12,000 Henderson County Library card holders,” she said. “Of these about 20% are children.”
Zenor said the library accounts for only a fraction of the county budget each year. Only $3.86 on a typical tax payer’s yearly bill goes to provide library service for all of the members of the household.
Combined support of the four county libraries accounted for about 1% of the general fund revenue.
She is requesting a bit more for salaries for her part-time employees and an increase of $6,000 for books and book updates.
The department’s three-full time and four part-time employees account for 77 years of library experience. Volunteers also logged 569 hours in 2020.
Last year, about 40,000 items were checked out from the library. The library was host to 113 live programs and virtual programming received 4,500 views.
“People come to the library for help with computers, WiFi, printing, scanning, faxing and notary service,” Zenor said.
The library staff has seen an increase in the use of electronic books and Zenor is requesting $6,000 be added to the budget to add to the availability. Last year, more than 13,000 e-book check-outs were recorded.
“The increase was dramatic during the COVID crisis,” she said. “E-books are no longer considered experimental. They are a core component of an accredited public library and it’s time they are included in the library budget.”
The library has already had e-resources since 2014, but they have been paid for by the public library fund which comes from donations by citizens and library advocates.
“I want to basically commend you,” County Judge Wade McKinney said. “The staff and yourself have done a fantastic job over the past 15 months with the pandemic. I dare say, the services were more important during that time.”
Zenor said an important service the library has provided is helping people apply for a job online.
People may come in who have never had a computer or e-mail account to apply for a position where only online applications are accepted.
“That can take a library employee 90 minutes to help someone apply for a job,” she said.
Zenor said maintaining accreditation is critical to the success of the library. That has already been secured for next year.