Changes are coming to Moon Lake Community Library, as we begin the process of becoming an actual public library. At the Mentone Town Council meeting on June 14, the council approved a resolution forming a public library in Mentone. On Tuesday, June 21 at a special called meeting, the Town Council officially appointed its new library board of trustees: Holley Midgley, Deedee Morrison, Jay Robbins, Mary Shurett, and Susan Van Apeldoorn. In this article, I will answer some questions about this change and how it will affect Moon Lake Community Library. Why did the library’s board decide to change to a public library? The short answer is money. There are significant benefits to being a public library. Until 2021, the library was a rare dual-use facility - a school library associated with Moon Lake Elementary and also a community library, open to the public after school hours and on Saturdays. Costs were shared between the school system and the non-profit library board. With the closing of the school, the library board was solely responsible for expenses. Moon Lake Library was fortunate to obtain two significant grants in 2021, one from the Alabama Humanities Council that could be used for the librarian’s salary and the other from the Tillotson Foundation for equipment and materials. These, along with generous donations, have helped considerably over the last few months. But board members knew that they couldn’t rely on windfalls like these post-pandemic. In order to assure the long term viability of the library, the board would need regular sources of funds. Since the town was given the Moon Lake campus by the DeKalb Board of Education last winter, they have committed to maintaining the library building as part of the campus. This in-kind support for the library has been a big help - and it made the library eligible to begin the application process to become a public library. What kinds of financial support do public libraries receive in DeKalb County? The libraries in Fort Payne, Henagar, Ider, Rainsville, Collinsville, Geraldine, and Crossville are members of the DeKalb Library System, which is based in Fort Payne. They receive state aid, based on the population of their town. They also receive free or low cost internet through the Alabama Supercomputer Authority and federal programs like E-Rate. The DeKalb Library System pays for libraries’ automation software, using federal funds. And the DeKalb County Commission awards $3000 to $4000 to each municipal library per year to help with expenses. Moon Lake would be a part of this system, eligible for similar financial support. Moon Lake won’t receive much state aid because of Mentone’s tiny population within the city limits, but it’s our eligibility for state aid that will bring other funding our way. Fun fact: Mentone is the smallest town in the entire state of Alabama to establish a public library!What’s the downside of being a public library? Paperwork. But if all the other libraries can do it, we can too. What is required to become a public library? In addition to the Town Council’s passing the resolution creating the library and naming a board, the library has to have written policies, procedures, a budget, a disaster-preparedness plan, bylaws, and a long-range strategic plan for five years. Alabama Public Library Services (APLS) has a minimum number of hours per week the library must be open, based on the town’s population. In December of last year, Moon Lake increased its hours from 11 per week to 16.5 to meet the 16 hour minimum. Libraries must have a well balanced collection of print and non-print materials, with the number based on population. The board must employ a qualified librarian. Documentation of all these requirements is due at APLS July 1. What is a qualified librarian? What if there’s no one closeby with a library degree? I think there will always be plenty of librarians who are, like me, happy to retire to Mentone. However, the library board sets the qualifications, not APLS. Local boards may specify, for example, that a four-year degree is preferred but not required, depending on the applicant experience. This allows small libraries in rural areas to employ people who may not have professional training, but who have a passion for libraries and will do an excellent job. If the Town Council is appointing a new board, what happens to the old board that has run the library all these years? They will transition into a Friends of the Library group focused on fundraising, while the new board will be more administrative in nature. The original board is a non-profit 501(c)(3), so donations are tax deductible. Some grants are available for municipal organizations like the new board, and others are for non-profits. This maximizes the library’s potential sources of funds. We might be the smallest town with a public library, but we’re far from the smallest library. There’s something for everyone in the Moon Lake Community Library collection. If you haven’t visited the library lately, please check us out. We’re open 12-4:30 Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday 10-1. If you have more questions, call the library at (256) 634-2127 or email email@example.com.