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Library support is important
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Forsyth County News
As they look for ways to do more with less, Forsyth County commissioners aren’t likely to find many easy solutions to complex financial problems.

Last week’s discussion of funding for a new branch of the county’s library system is a perfect example.

There is no doubt that the Hampton Park library branch is needed, nor that it will be well utilized once it opens. But its operational budget is a new expense for the county at a time when officials are looking everywhere to reduce expenses.

Library system director Jon McDaniel made a telling point in last  week’s discussion of funding for the north Forsyth library  expected to open in January. Citing phenomenal recent increases in library usage, McDaniel suggested that challenging economic conditions have residents turning to taxpayer supported resources more often than in the past.

McDaniel said library usage climbed 19 percent over the past year, when an increase of 5-8 percent is more typically the annual norm.

McDaniel’s theory makes sense, and it also means that other county programs gear-ed toward providing people with “something to do” — like the county’s park system — are likely to see heavier use at the same time operational dollars are harder to find.

These are difficult financial times for many , and there are no simple choices for county officials who must decide which of many needs are top priorities.

Funding for libraries is important. If residents are looking to the county’s libraries to replace more expensive leisure time alternatives, that’s a good thing. Libraries are repositories of the positive, and nothing negative ever came from exposing the public to positive influences.

We’re confident commissioners recognize the importance of the county’s library system and the need for the Hampton Park facility in the northern end of the county. That said, we also know they have to juggle a lot of financial concerns as they work with dwindling tax dollars. We encourage them to do all they can to staff the library system at a level that will allow county residents to fully utilize the three branches of the county’s award winning system at a time when libraries may be even more important than in the recent past.