Notes from your Alta Library

Friday, February 17, 2012

We have reached February in this strange winter. They keep warning us of icy roads and blizzard-like conditions, but those conditions never materialize. We survived GroundHog Day, and now are told we will have 6 weeks more of winter. Of course, we must remember this is Leap Year, so we will have that extra day, February 29. Who knows what that will bring. We have all been told that Leap Years were established as a correction to the Gregorian calendar. But I often wondered why Leap Year always brought Election Year. Was it all a dastardly plot to enable politicians to have an extra day on which to mesmerize us with their lofty rhetoric and influence our vote? No such plot could be discovered. It seems it was just happenstance that the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776, a Leap Year. Another Leap Year was 1788, when the Constitution was ratified and George Washington was elected as our first President -- so our election cycle became entwined with the Leap Year cycle.

When researching for this column, I discovered an interesting fact -- elections occur every 4 years, but not every election falls on a Leap Year. That is because of a "hitch" in the Gregorian calendar which dictates that years marking the end of a century (ie: multiples of 100) are only Leap Years if they are also divisible by 400. Example: 1600, 2000, & 2400 are Leap Years, but 1800, 1900, and 2100 are not. Confused? It doesn't quite make sense to me, but I refuse to worry about it, and consider only that this is Leap Year and Election Year, so we have one extra day to ponder all the words and promises issuing from the candidates.

Enough of that! The work on the Library renovation is progressing, albeit slowly. The public (adult) computers are up and running. New books, DVDs, magazines, etc are constantly being added to the collection for your perusal and edification. By the way, you might want to check the shelves in the hallway. Here are many books, audios, etc. which have been "weeded" from the collection and can be purchased at a fantastic bargain price.

Last month I talked a bit about the Library Board and I promised to bring you more information this month. As noted previously, the Board has the authority to decide how Library funding is spent, but it still needs to report all income and expenditures to the City. Where does the funding come from? The City levies a tax on the assessed value of taxable property within its jurisdiction. The Iowa Code states this levy should be "not less than $.067 and not more than $8.10 per $1000 of assessed property valuation." The amount is set by the City. There is also a County levy that is divided by all the County Libraries, and there are some funds available through the Enrich Iowa program -- but at the present, this is not fully funded. The Library Director and the Board prepare a budget for the year and submit it to the City Council. They, in turn, authorize a budget amount. If there are monetary gifts given to the Library, they are kept separate for specific Library projects and not included in the general budget. The City does the financial accounting, writes checks for Library expenditures after authorization by the Board, and submits monthly financial reports to the Board.

Next month, we will end up this little tutorial with a look at the role of the Public Library, its importance to the City, and the Board's responsibility to enhance this role.

'til next time - Joyce