Libraries ask for continued support

BELINGTON – Barbour County librarians have been visiting their local government agencies this month to explain the services they provide and ask for financial support.

The Belington Public Library and Philippi Public Library could experience a funding cut at the state level. The Barbour County Commission, Philippi City Council, Belington City Council and Barbour County Board of Education have each supported one or both of the libraries in the past by helping them meet their goals of matching state funds.

Libraries are required to match 50 percent of the funds they receive from the state with government sources and the other 50 percent with fundraisers, late fees and donations. The Philippi Public Library’s Judy Larry and Belington Public Library’s Tammy Smith have been making the rounds to speak to their local government agencies this month about why libraries are important and about more than just books, reading and literacy.

“Everybody thinks the library’s about books, books, books, but that’s not all we do,” Smith said at Belington City Council’s Thursday meeting, adding that her library hosts many programs and classes about art, reading and much more.

Smith said the Belington Public Library is always looking for people who might be interested in hosting a class or workshop on topics that can extend outside of the range of reading, writing and art. She also said the library hosts a program to help qualifying individuals prepare their taxes.

Larry told Philippi City Council on Tuesday much the same.

“We’re more of a community center and we just happen to have books,” Larry said.

Libraries have more than just printed books stacked on shelves, the librarians said. They also offer e-books, audio books, videos and even a genealogy collection. The Philippi Library offers genealogy classes, Larry said. Smith said Belington Public Library’s genealogy collection is recommended by other libraries and researchers throughout the region.

“People will say go to Belington,” Smith said, adding that the recommendation helps to make the town of Belington shine. “They have a great genealogy record.”

In addition to its own collection of records and resources which include old photographs of the city, Belington Public Library has subscriptions to online research sites like that patrons can use to find even more documents that have been recorded and stored for ancestral research. The library also has a monthly genealogy club.

The library also recently updated 12 computers by installing Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft Windows 7 for a small price. Although these aren’t the most recent versions of the software and operating systems that are currently available, Smith said the upgrades were still better than the much more outdated versions on which the computers were running prior to the change.

In other business, Belington City Council approved its general fund budget for the next fiscal year with the total amount of $464,431 with an expected coal severance tax fund revenue of $34,135.

“It was extremely, extremely tight,” council member Debra Hutchison said, adding that finding the funds needed for each line item in the budget was a difficult task. “There’s nothing to play with this year. Nothing.

“When we did do this, we were digging and scratching. We dug and scratched about as deep as we could dig and scratch. There was just nothing.”

Belington City Council voted unanimously against allowing police officers to take police cruisers to their residences at the end of the day because the budget was too tight to find funds for the additional gas and potential liability.

In addition, City Council voted to rename a street to avoid potential confusion. Howard Avenue was the street’s original name, but at one point, part of the street that was separated by a curve became known as Howard Street. Council voted to officially rename the entire street Howard Avenue to prevent confusion.

Council also announced that street cleaning will begin in town soon.