To Join or not to Join – it comes down to finances:
The Red Bank Public Library Eisner Memorial (RBPL) operates as an independent municipal library. Currently, because we are a municipal library, the library’s budget is established by a state-mandated formula (called “the 1/3 of the mill rate”) based on the appraised value of property in Red Bank. The Borough is informed each October by the State of the amount required to fund the Library. This amount of funding fluctuates as housing values go up and down, but overall has declined almost 12% since 2009.
As a small standalone library, RBPL made the decision to join a consortium of libraries in 2001, namely the Libraries of Middlesex Automated Consortium (LMxAC). The benefits of belonging to a consortium are numerous, including: interlibrary loans of over 1 million titles (over 3 million items), technical and professional support, reciprocal borrowing privileges at over 150 libraries, access to databases and online resources, as well as eBook collections. We currently pay $22,000, from our annual budget, to be a member of LMxAC. LMxAC currently consists of 30 members, including Red Bank.
To join the Monmouth County Library System (MCLS), Red Bank residents would pay for this privilege via their Monmouth County taxes. The 2015 County Library tax rate applied to the Net Valuation on Which County Taxes are Apportioned averaged .000183988602134 (compared with a tax rate of .000333333333333 for municipal libraries.) If applied to Red Bank's Net Valuation of $1,990,213,711 based on 2014 data, it is estimated that Red Bank's County Library tax total would have been about $366,176 in 2015. (This is an estimate as there are other variables that could apply).
The MCLS membership cost would cover all library materials, computing and technology needs, and support services, a programming budget, resource sharing, databases and online educational resources, the Library's eBook collections and downloadable eMagazine collections, the use of all 13 Monmouth County branch libraries, inter-library loan service, and delivery services.* RBPL currently spends approximately $169,000 on these budget items today.
If Red Bank Library were not a municipal library and became a member of the Monmouth County Library System, then the town would not be required to tax at the 1/3 mil rate (.000333333333333) in addition to the County Library tax. But while the tax rate seems low for membership dues to join Monmouth County Library, it is important to keep in mind that RBPL would be paying that tax IN ADDITION to paying for staff and library building costs, which in 2015 were $550,000.
MYTH: The county system would shut down our library.
TRUTH: There are two ways to join the County System: as a Branch and as a Member. Because of our proximity to the Eastern Branch of the County Library, we would never be considered as a branch library. When you are a branch library, MCPL basically takes over running the library. If we were to join it would be as a member library, much like Little Silver and Fair Haven. What this means is we remain autonomous, in control of staffing and operating our library including facilities and programming decisions. Because of this, we would still be paying for all staffing and facilities costs, which are our largest budget items.
MYTH: The Eisner Deed does not allow us to join the County System.
TRUTH: The Eisner Deed is the document that legally deeded the home of Sigmund and Bertha Eisner to Red Bank for the sole and specific use of a public library. The deed stipulates we must be a library, it does not place any restrictions upon being a library as part of a larger association. Joining the County would be no different, in regard to the deed, than our current membership in LMxAC.
While there are many benefits to joining the MCLS, it would increase the amount taxpayers would pay for library services. The Board of Trustees believes our membership in LMxAC provides residents with similar benefits at a very cost effective rate.
*Important note: Patrons who live in a community with a member library have borrowing privileges at their own location and 13 branches. MCLS does not borrow or inter-library loan materials from member locations. Patrons cannot borrow from other member libraries.
By the Numbers:
These numbers are based on 2014/2015 budget and tax numbers. They are general estimates of cost, as there could be additional unforeseen budget items involved in joining a new system.