A bill that could lead to the consolidation of township and
county library systems passed a Senate committee 7-1 on Wednesday with
S.B. 348 would require each county to form a committee to
prepare a plan for library services in their county. The plan would have to
propose one of several models, including a consolidated countywide system.
Westchester Public Library officials are concerned that the
bill could ultimately lead to an end to the township library, especially
because of a provision that would allow the state library to approve of each
county’s library service plan.
The Senate Committee on Local Government passed a 16-page
committee report containing amendments. One amendment addresses what would
happen if a library committee determines that a library services model other
than consolidation should be used. In such a case, the committee would have
to include in its plan specific findings to explain why the chosen model is
preferable and why that particular model would result in better library
services than a consolidated system.
Another amendment appears targeted to those counties in
Indiana where library services are lacking. A committee would need to
consider having a public library enter into an interlocal agreement with at
least one school corporation in the county into order to better serve the
underserved areas, under the amendment.
Another amendment deals with the use of County Economic
Development Income Tax to replace the property tax levies of library
WPL Director Phil Baugher said this morning that he has not
yet had time to fully study the
amendments, but that WPL will track the bill closely this session.
Although the bill passed the committee, it was reassigned to
the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The one state senator who voted against the bill in committee
was also the only Democrat who voted: Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago.
Similar to Porter County, which has WPL and the county library system, Lake
County also has several independent library systems that could face
consolidation with the county system under the bill.
The senators who voted in favor of the bill were Sue Landske,
R-Cedar Lake, and fellow Republicans Phil Boots, James Buck, Beverly Gard,
Travis Holdman, Michael Young, and Connie Lawson.