By Marlys Good
Big Horn County residents did it — they met the Wyoming Library Endowment Challenge established by the 2008 Wyoming Legislature that required each county to secure $10,000, after which they would be entitled to 3-1 matching funds.
The “challenge” was for Big Horn County to raise $100,000, all of which would be eligible for the match.
Despite the downturn in the economy the communities pulled together and raised “roughly” $170,000; the State matched that amount three to one, bringing the total to $510,000, plus an added bonus of $100,000 for meeting the goal.
Carolyn Walton of the Big Horn County Library Foundation said the response from the communities was “phenomenal. Not only as to how people responded, but how faithful they were to respond year after year. It was not a one-time push; they just kept on giving.”
Walton said the Foundation has helped different needs of ALL the libraries in Big Horn County. “We have increased funding for the book budgets since the county budget has taken such a hit in tax revenue. Recently we participated in the costs for a study of the expansion of the Greybull Library as well as being a part of the Hillary Jones’ sculpture installation. In years past, the Foundation assisted with the purchase of furniture for the Big Horn County Library’s young adult section and with the Lovell library furnishings.”
The most recent additions to the county libraries, thanks to the challenge, are audio-book collections, and the installation of Overdrive, an e-book service that allows Big Horn County Library card holders to go to the website and check out e-books and audio books.
Walton said the separation of funding from the county and the Foundation is difficult to understand. “The underlying requirement of the 2008 Endowment Challenge Act clearly states that the Endowment should in no way supersede county funding for libraries. Staffing, buildings, maintenance, etc., are NOT a responsibility of the Foundation. The Endowment fund remains into perpetuity and only its proceeds are available for enhancement of library services.”
Walton said the Foundation remains open to requests and suggestions of how to better serve the libraries and it continues to accept donations, even though the Endowment Challenge has been reached.
To thank the communities for their support of the challenge, the Big Horn County Library Foundation is hosting a free performance by country singer Luke Bell at the Greybull Elks Lodge Friday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m. in an evening geared to “listening, dancing and celebrating.”