MORE ABOUT CHECKING OUT BOOKS

There are two key points to understand about checking out books.

First, if Belmont does not have a library, our town can no longer be members of the Minuteman Library Network – the regional inter-library loan network. This consortium of 42 libraries gives us access to millions of books and other items.  To be a member of the network, a town must have a library that has a budget that exceeds a minimum funding level – and in Belmont, we are already very close to that threshold. If we fall below that threshold, we will be decertified and cannot be part of the consortium. And if our library fails and we have no library, Belmont will have no option to be part of the consortium.

Second, if Belmont does not have a library, libraries in other town would ban Belmont residents from checking out books in their libraries. Why? Think of it this way. Would we subsidize Watertown’s fire department? Would we subsidize Arlington’s schools? Then why would we expect those towns to subsidize our library services?

Library services cost money. Towns fund their libraries at the level they need to provide services to their residents. They do not provide funding to serve residents from other towns.

However, there is state funding given to libraries when they loan materials to residents from towns IN THE NETWORK. However, if Belmont is not part of the network, libraries will not receive state funding for Belmont residents. We would be a financial burden. Belmont would not provide services for a free-loading town, and neither will they.

There is a precedent for de-certification, when all of the towns of the Minuteman Library Network voted to refuse to loan materials to residents from the de-certified town.

However, there is no precedent for a Minuteman town completely closing its library. Frankly, there is no precedent for that in all of the towns in Massachusetts. Belmont could become the first town in Massachusetts to let its library die.