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County Library Board recommends disbanding

by Michael Mattison

The Sibley County Library Board voted to recommend to the Sibley County Commissioners that the Library Board be disbanded at the end of its fiscal year. The County Commissioners will now take that recommendation under consideration. This likely means that each of the city’s would be taking over the responsibility of funding the majority of library operations or the Commissioners could become the governing body of the library system. The recommendation from the Library Board included a stipulation that Sibley County maintain the current level of contribution to the libraries for a time duration that was not specified. Commissioner Christian Lilienthal said that if the Commissioners pass of the responsibility to the cities and their library boards, it would work with the cities on the transitioning details through December 31. He suggested the county should enter into a three-year contract with each of the cities. “The cities are going to need to be ready to go right away and be on board,” said County Attorney Don Lannoye. In other business, the Board tabled the Winthrop contract with its preferred budgetary contributions until its next meeting. The total contribution from Winthrop for 2022 is $32,188. Of that amount, $23,063 is earmarked for salaries and 6,000 for reference books and materials. Sibley County pays for 25 hours per week of the director’s pay and city’s can contribute a higher amount. Winthrop Library Director Elizabeth Niebuhr said she was originally hired at an additional 14 1/2 hours by Winthrop. This year’s budget has her reduced to seven additional hours with library aide at 20 hours per week. Niebuhr said that she would not be able to do her duties as a director in those amount of hours as she would also be having to man the front desk for many of those hours. The Board tabled the contract and is looking to meet with representatives of the Winthrop City Council about the reasoning for the budget line items.

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