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Editorial: Library agreement victory for patrons

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For quite some time, many residents in parts of Blue River Township had to drive 8 miles to Franklin or 10 miles to Trafalgar to check out a book from the library, rather than driving less than a mile to the Edinburgh Wright-Hageman Public Library.

And some residents of Greenwood weren’t able to check out materials from the Greenwood Public Library.

The reason had to do with library district boundaries, but that is no longer as much of an issue. Officials from the three districts have forged a cooperative agreement that now allows Johnson County residents to check out books at any library in the county they want.

Starting this month, residents in Edinburgh, Greenwood and the rest of Johnson County will be able to take home books, audiobooks and DVDs from the library that is most convenient.

The agreement allows residents to choose which library they want to use and should clear up confusion about where they’re allowed to get a library card. Library users will have to get library cards where they pay taxes and then can use that card to access any county library they want.

Greenwood Public Library director Cheryl Dobbs said, “We felt that it would be a benefit to our community.”

We wholeheartedly agree.

In 2012, state library officials notified the Greenwood library that it couldn’t lend books to people living outside the library district boundaries without an agreement in place with the Johnson County Public Library system, which has branches in New Whiteland, Franklin, Trafalgar and White River Township. After the agreement lapsed, the Greenwood library had continued it informally, but the Johnson County Public Library required residents living outside its district to buy library cards if they wanted to go to county branches.

Threatened with having to close and needing to cut costs wherever it could, the Greenwood library stopped lending to residents outside the library boundaries in 2012. At the time, library officials thought eliminating shared services would save money. But Dobbs said the library is now stable financially, and the cost of partnering with the Edinburgh library and the Johnson County library system is small.

The system will help with confusion in Greenwood, where the library district boundaries don’t match the city limits, and also in Edinburgh, where the library district limits don’t match the school district boundaries. The reciprocal lending won’t include all of the benefits of having a library card at your own library district. For example, a Greenwood resident won’t be able to use Johnson County library electronic databases for research, e-books or e-audiobooks.

We commend the officials of all three library districts in reaching this agreement.

Libraries are a valuable community resource. This agreement expands the impact area of the county’s three library systems and is a significant increase in convenience for library patrons.

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