#29: Timberland Regional Libraries

We interviewed Cheryl Heywood, director of Timberland Regional Libraries to talk about the past, present, and future of our library system. We discussed the value that the library brings to Olympia, the structure and funding of the five-county library system, and how the library will be moving forward with some tough decisions around budget shortfalls.

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4 Replies to “#29: Timberland Regional Libraries”

  1. Kelly

    A lot of people take issue with statements like this, “What I think has been missing was the point of view of Olympia residents who receive less library services than what they pay into the system.”

    When the TRL system was formed, it was formed with the intent to pool resources so that rural libraries would be able to have services. Additionally, funding was opposite to what we see now- the timber revenues from rural areas were significantly larger than property taxes. Obviously, this was going to inevitably change as timber is a finite resource.

    Many people take issue with your podcast because you didn’t offer an alternative view- you offered yet another vehicle for the administration’s propaganda.

    If you are concerned about fairness in funding sources, why didn’t you ask what they’re doing to procure other sources of funding? Are you aware that this administration refuses to consider grants? That they have not been seeking community partnerships that would bring in funds? Or looking at approaching private donors?

    You didn’t want Lewis County’s perspective, but what about Yelm? Have you been out there? It’s an absolutely fantastic library! From a building standpoint it’s spacious and welcoming. The community took immense pride in obtaining that space and made donations (for which they got a book tile on the wall) and created artwork and murals that decorate the walls. Yelm provides incredible programs across the gamut from community yoga to story hours. On top of that they run a free donation table where patrons drop off food, clothing, and toys for the less fortunate. They have created checkout materials for patrons that go beyond books- musical instruments, gardening materials. The librarians at Yelm have gone to amazing lengths to provide outreach to every school in the area, including the Nisqually reservation.

    You walk into that library and it’s a fully utilized, community-built and loved space. What does this administration want? They want to shut it down and move it to a smaller space. Doing so would be an absolute blow to that community; even considering the idea shows blatant lack of concern for the community! It’s not just moving either. If that library is forced into a smaller space, they will have no choice but to cut back on the services and outreach they offer.

    Yelm is Thurston County. Do they matter to you?

    My final comment regarding money. Libraries are public services. They are not corporations where the final concern is profit. Do you think that only Olympia deserves paved roads? Should the rural areas only have dirt tracks because they contribute less money? Should schools in rural areas or in inner city neighborhoods have less than schools in well-funded suburbia? I certainly hope not. I hope we haven’t reached such a point in the haves and have-nots that even public services are only available to the wealthy.

    • admin

      Hi Kelly (this is Emmett again),

      Again, we’re focused on Olympia issues. It may seem idiosyncratic, but if you listened to our other episodes, you’d see were focused on Olympia.

      Yelm is an interesting example though, I’m glad you brought it up. In most cities in Timberland, city residents are essentially double taxed for library services because they pay for library services but also for the building provided by the city. This isn’t true in Montesano (where TRL inherited a building from a former library system) and Yelm. When I was on the board Yelm threatened to shut down the library unless TRL stepped up, which it did, to the tune of about $30,000 a year for maintenance of their current location. I agree it is nice, but the city doesn’t pay for it like other cities do. I had hoped this was the first step in TRL offering similar payments to other cities, thereby ending the practice of cities providing buildings for TRL. But that never happened.

      Also, TRL at one point had a mechanism to go after charitable donations, but the TRL Foundation never got off the ground and was folded years ago.

  2. Michelle America

    This is total propaganda. Why didn’t you interview anyone from Lewis County (or other counties) who were going to lose their libraries? Did you even listen to the recording of the Randle Town Hall? Or the recording of the Ilwaco BOT meeting? Do you even understand how rural communities work in terms of lack of resources and basics like transportation? Do your research! The word choice of “consolidate” is very curious. Call a spade a spade. The CFP insisted on CLOSING libraries (not consolidate) and doing it secrecy. Even the Board of Trustees was not notified and all internal institutional process were ignored. Cheryl lied. Admin lied. The Chronicle’s reporting is grounded in actual Public Records Requests of emails written by the Admin team. They are their own worst enemy and this is a mess of their making – a terrible abuse of power. You all should be ashamed of this production! Have you come to one town hall or Board of Trustees or community meeting? I doubt it. Do your research. Shame on you!

    • admin

      Hi Michelle, we are a podcast that specifically focuses on events in Olympia, so we wanted to approach this topic from that perspective. Also, from a completely personal perspective (this is Emmett writing), the point of view of Lewis County residents and Randle library users has been well spelled out already in the Chronicle. What I think has been missing was the point of view of Olympia residents who receive less library services than what they pay into the system.

      The roll out of the CFP was way more ham handed than anyone wanted, sure.

      I served on the TRL Board for six years, so while I haven’t been to a meeting recently I have been to many of these meetings in my past and I’ve watched as many as I can. I especially remember meetings when we had to tell Toledo residents that TRL couldn’t afford to open a library in their town, despite them voting to annex into the district.

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