MADISON — If the Madison County board of commissioners ever doubted the importance of libraries in small communities, Tuesday provided a good reminder.
Representatives of the Madison County Library Association met with the county board to review some of the services their libraries have provided and ways the libraries have used the $41,330 provided to them by the county in its fiscal 2017 budget.
The association divides the funds between the libraries in Madison, Battle Creek, Tilden, Meadow Grove and Newman Grove.
Nichole Lawless, the director of the Madison library for the past nine years, spoke on behalf of the library association. The county’s financial support has helped the libraries grow and better serve the communities and the rural residents who use them, she said.
Lawless shared some of the ways each of the libraries use county funds, including to subscribe to Ancestry, which helps people look up genealogy information.
The county libraries totaled more than 3,600 searches on Ancestry. Last year, Madison received an additional $1,330 for hosting the Ancestry Library database.
The libraries offer the international version of Ancestry, so researchers can go beyond when their ancestors arrived in the United States. It includes birth and death records. Research must be conducted in the libraries.
The libraries also share resources if someone wants to borrow a book or material that might be available in a neighboring facility.
Jim Prauner, county board chairman, said the libraries are especially useful for young people, providing entertainment and opportunities to learn.
Lawless requested that the libraries each get an additional $500 for the coming year. The library directors noted that all the expenses associated with operating libraries is going up, including computer replacement, bandwidth costs and books.
County board members said they will be try to honor the request but cannot guarantee anything. The county also is dealing with other increased costs, especially health insurance premiums, and will be putting the upcoming budget together in the next few weeks.
“We’ll take it under advisement,” Prauner said.