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Vote planned for today on library cards

WELL-STOCKED SHELVES: Onthe top floor of the Peru Public Library, adults can browse books, read and use the computers in a quiet space. The more-than-century-old Carnegie library has about 28,000 books in stock.

BY CAROLINE EGGERS - ceggers@perutribune.com

Some Miami County residents are another step closer to getting free library cards at the Peru Public Library.

On Friday, the Peru Public Library Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of signing an agreement with the county to offer $75,000 worth of library cards for up to 1,000 county residents for one year.

Tonight, the Miami County Council will cast their vote on whether to finalize the contract during their regular meeting at 7 p.m.

County residents outside of Peru stopped receiving the tax-funded library cards in 2015, and now pay $75 per individual card. “At the time, both parties were not satisfied with the arrangement ... we’re moving on now,” said Peru Public Library Board of Trustees President Anna Jo McKaig.

Peru resident Charles Wagner, who was the library director for 41 years until Maryann Farnham took over in 2015, “objects strenuously” to the new proposal to subtract $75,000 from the county’s CEDIT account.  “(The library) is not a charity, it’s a tax appointed governmental unit,” he said.

And most of those taxes come from Peru residents, he said.

Wagner would prefer that the Peru city library becomes the county library – and that every resident would receive the same tax rate.

Most Indiana counties have a county library district, or several library districts. In Miami County, Converse residents in Jackson Township pay a library tax for their own autonomous library, according to McKaig.

The library and county leaders tried to come up with the fairest arrangement possible for all county residents, McKaig said. “We just hope this leads to a creation of a longer and more sustainable service for county residents,” she said.  

At the Peru Public Library, most library services – such as children’s “Story Time,” adult coloring group, and access to newspapers and genealogy research – are available to anyone who walks through the library’s front door.

But checking out materials requires a library card.

There are more than 28,000 books and 2,000 video materials at the library. And, library users can access the more than seven million items located across the 115 Evergreen Libraries – all of which can be accessed in less than a week’s time, according to McKaig said. 

After the council votes on Tuesday evening, the entities involved in the decision will issue a press release with next steps for residents. 

If approved, cards will become available “as soon as logistically possible,” for one year from the point of issue, McKaig said.