News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Decatur library a victim of Wheeler Basin success

Decatur City Council members and Morgan County commissioners need to focus on the successes of Wheeler Basin Library rather than suggest things are amiss.

Hartselle, Athens and Lawrence County libraries pulling out of the system is far from a sign of something being wrong. It's a sign of success because civic and political leaders formed Wheeler Basin in 1958 as a way to help smaller communities have libraries before they could afford them.

Three libraries remain in the system with Decatur, but Priceville, Eva and Falkville, too, may spin off and become independent as their communities grow.

In each case, these libraries formed individual boards to oversee their relationship with Wheeler. They all have them except Decatur, which the countywide Wheeler board still governs.

Some City Council members see the loss of the libraries as a negative and drag their feet at helping Decatur's library through the transition. That's not fair to the Wheeler board and staff, nor is it fair to the citizens of Decatur who want a first-rate library.

The loss of these libraries naturally meant a loss of revenue to Wheeler for helping pay for shared functions. But that is only part of the financial crisis. The library simply doesn't get enough government support.

Wheeler Basin likely will disband within the next couple of months. In the meantime, a majority of council members show no interest in establishing a local board or in helping properly fund the library. Nor does the County Commission.

It's ironic that Decatur's public library draws a penalty for nurturing these other successful libraries that now understandably wish to become independent.

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