The Seneca Area Chamber of Commerce has created a petition in response to the Newton County Library Board’s decision to shutdown the Seneca library branch.
Josh Dodson, Seneca Area Chamber of Commerce president, said the petition is an attempt to keep the doors open on the library that has served Seneca since the 1930s.
“We’re doing this because of the importance that this library has for this community and the area around it,” Dodson said.
The announcement came Thursday following a Wednesday vote by the library board, in which board members cited financial constraints as the cause for the closure.
The library is expected to shut its doors by early November.
Keri Collinsworth, Newton County Library Board president, said the decision to shut down the Seneca library branch was not an easy one.
“None of the board members wanted to make that decision,” Collinsworth said. “Ultimately we have to balance our budget so the question was not whether the library was used or appreciated by the Seneca community, we know it was.”
Collinsworth said closing the Seneca branch would save approximately $67,000 annually.
Ginny Ray, director of the Neosho-Newton County Library, said Thursday that the library has been operating on low revenue and increasing costs.
Collinsworth echoed those statements, and noted the extra expenses associated with operating a modern day library.
“We are operating on an antiquated book library budget,” Collinsworth said.
The Newton County Library Board has also faced financial hardship at the Neosho branch in the past year, when a proposed 14.5-cent property tax levy intended to expand the facility and address maintenance issues at that branch failed by a large margin in the June election.
The increase would have added an additional 17,000 square feet to the Neosho location, as well as fund repairs including a broken sewer line and a leaky roof.
The issue failed with only 36 percent of voters approving the increase, and was shot down in nearly every precinct, including Seneca. Seneca, which is home to the only other branch of the Newton County Library besides Neosho, rejected the issue by a nearly 6-1 margin.
Dodson said he plans to present the petition in support of the Seneca branch to the Newton County Library board at their next public meeting, scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 at the Neosho-Newton County Library.
Collinsworth said options to keep the library branch open could be explored, so long as there is an alternate source of funding for the branch.
“I appreciate them showing support for their library,” Collinsworth said.
Dodson said the petition is available in print circulating around Seneca and can also be accessed online at www.senecamochamber.com.
Page 2 of 2 - Those with questions about the petition may email Dodson at email@example.com.