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Library lending shifting direction


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Johnson County residents can check out books at any library in the county starting later this week.

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

The agreement among the three library districts 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, Greenwood Public Library director Cheryl Dobbs said.

Library users will have to get library cards where they pay taxes, as usual and then can use that card to access any county library they want, she said.

“We felt that it would be a benefit to our community,” she said.

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, directors said.

Two years ago, Greenwood stopped a longtime practice of allowing residents who didn’t live within the library district to borrow books and other items. Now, the Greenwood library will issue reciprocal lending cards to residents from the other two library districts. The county libraries will allow residents with less than $15 in fines at their local library to use their Greenwood cards at any branch.

And in Edinburgh, county and Greenwood library cardholders can give their names and show a photo ID to check out books.

Families whose children attend school in Blue River Township will now be able to get books at the Edinburgh library, even if they don’t live in the town, library director Cathy Hamm said. Residents living outside the town limits whose children attended local schools previously weren’t allowed to check out books in Edinburgh, she said.

For years, she has wanted Johnson County library users to be able to come to the Edinburgh library if it’s easiest for them, she said.

“I just think this is going to be a wonderful agreement throughout the county,” she said.

The arrangement between the three library districts is re- creating a policy from the past. The boards from all three libraries approved the agreement.

The Johnson County Public, Edinburgh Wright-Hageman Public and the Greenwood Public libraries had a legal agreement allowing residents to get library cards to all the county libraries for free. That agreement expired years ago, and the county library system stopped offering free library cards to residents outside its library district.

But until two years ago, the Greenwood Public Library had continued allowing Johnson County residents to borrow books, DVDs and audio books for free.

In 2012, state library officials notified the 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 their 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 the library is now stable financially and the cost of partnering with the Edinburgh library and the Johnson County library system is small, Dobbs said.

Residents visiting libraries outside their district will continue to be able to use books and research databases inside the libraries. But, now they will also be able to take books home.

“People have always been welcome to use any of the materials in the library. They’ll now just be able to check them out,” Johnson County library director Beverly Martin said.

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.

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