For many years, public libraries in Outagamie County and the Brown County Library have served the residents of the other county. Overall, the amount of service provided to residents of the other county is pretty small – about 20,000 loans annually, which is less than 1% of the total number of loans by the libraries in either county. Because residents of each county borrow approximately the same number of items from libraries in the other county, this inter-county service is balanced and reciprocal.
In June 2012, Brown County Library billed Outagamie County for the service it has provided to Outagamie residents, unnecessarily creating an inequity between the counties. In an attempt to remedy this inequity, the Appleton, Kaukauna, Kimberly-Little Chute, and Seymour public libraries discontinued service to Brown County residents on January 1, 2013. A document entitled Questions and Answers about Library Service to Brown County Residents summarized the situation and explained why service had been discontinued. This document was also a response to information released by the Brown County Library, which misleads readers into believing that some residents don't pay taxes for library service. This isn't the case. All Outagamie County residents pay taxes for library service, and most state residents actually support their libraries at a higher rate than in Brown County. (Summary of support for public libraries by county.) Appleton Public Library created a reformatted version of the FAQ mentioned above and an infographic about this issue.
Service to Brown County Residents To Be Reinstated
This month, all four local library boards voted to resume service to Brown County residents. The libraries have always maintained that the service they provide to Brown County residents offset any bills that Brown County Library might send to Outagamie County. Outagamie County agrees with this position and considers the bill from Brown County Library to be paid in full. Furthermore, Outagamie County believes there is no longer an inequity to be addressed and has expressed its support for reinstating borrowing privileges for Brown County residents. Consequently, service will be reinstated on Monday, March 25, 2013. A letter is being sent to Brown County cardholders to inform them of this change.
In the interests of transparency, OWLS has posted the documents listed below that relate to this issue. In addition, a more thorough analysis of the impact on OWLS libraries of the services they provide to nonresidents can be found in a background paper entitled Consideration for Public Library Services to Nonresidents. This paper also discusses the shortcomings of Section 43.12, Wisconsin Statutes.
Response from Brown County Library Board (07-24-2012)
Letter from Muehl Public Library to Brown County (10-2-2012)
Letter from Kaukauna Public Library to Brown County (10-10-2012)
Memo from Appleton Public Library to Brown County (10-16-2012)
Memo from Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library (10-17-2012)
OWLS Director's Press Conference Remarks (11-01-2012)
Flyer for Brown County residents (11-02-2012)
Letter sent to Brown County residents (11-9-2012)
Memo to Brown County Executive Streckenbach (12-28-12)
Letter sent to Brown County residents (3-22-13)
Supporting public libraries in Outagamie and Waupaca counties
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