Lake Elmo Library may rejoin county system

This may be the year the Lake Elmo Public Library agrees to rejoin the county library system.

On April 12, the library board reviewed a proposed resolution that would allow the independent library to become a branch of the county system.

City Administrator Kristina Handt presented a draft resolution to the library board outlining some of the concessions and admissions the board, city council and county board of commissioners would need to agree to in order for the library to rejoin the county library system.

In 2016, the Lake Elmo Library Board had crafted a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that proposed terms for the library to rejoin the county library system. However, the MOU did not reach the county board of commissioners in time to be considered for implementation in 2017.

Handt told the Lake Elmo Library Board April 12 that some of the language used in the new agreement was taken from the MOU crafted last year.

According to the newly proposed agreement, the Lake Elmo Library would become a branch of the county library system, and the county would install a self-checkout system similar to those at other library branches. The Lake Elmo location would be open a minimum of 40 hours per week, and the county would agree to hiring all of the current library staff.

According to the agreement presented, the library building — currently owned by the city of Lake Elmo — would be transferred to the county. The previous agreement suggested the city would lease the library space to the county library system.

“I think that this makes the county have a greater stake in Lake Elmo,” Handt said. “A lease has an end date.”

Included in the proposed transfer to the county system, the agreement outlines a payment of $200,000 from the city’s library fund to pay for building upgrades, and it calls for the transfer of the book collection to the county as well.

Lake Elmo Library Board members expressed optimism, but also wanted more time to ask questions, hear public input and contemplate the proposal before making a decision. Some board members asked for additions or clarifications on the role of volunteers, operations and the transfer of the building. Board President Tom DeGree quoted state statute about the process in which an independent library joins a county system.

“The process initiates with the board,” DeGree said.

If the library board agreed to the proposal, the board would send a recommendation to the city council, and the council would send the resolution to the county board for approval. Handt pointed out that there are a limited number of meetings for all three groups before the July 1 deadline.

The Lake Elmo Library Board decided to mail notice to residents in Lake Elmo and to have a meeting Wednesday, May 3, to gather public input and make a recommendation to the city council.

Contact Alicia Lebens at [email protected]