As a member of the Corbin Public Library Board of Directors, I am proud to be a part of the group who made that decision, and I think the people of this community will be proud of their new library when it is completed. Yes, the library will be completed and yes, the Board of Directors knows exactly how they plan to pay for it, in spite of remarks made in The News-Journal. If Mr. Knuckles or members of his staff had regularly attended our Board meetings over the past two years, he would have been aware of the many hours this group of dedicated volunteers has relinquished to be certain not to “jump out on a limb” and not to be irresponsible stewards of the taxpayers’ money. Mr. Knuckles claims that he took a “quick peek” at our budget; perhaps it was too quick. Of course, we will have to pay on the new library for years, but the money should be there for the payments.
We did speak with our city officials (before agreeing to purchase the building) about additional funding necessary to operate a larger, two story building, and because we wanted the new library to be energy efficient, which will cost more, but be cheaper and more efficient in the long run, we asked the city to apply for a grant for us, which they did. We are still awaiting a decision on that grant. I hope Mr. Knuckles’ preposterous remarks that “our new library could be sold on the courthouse steps one day” and his suggestion that our library board is irresponsible and “out on a limb” will not reduce Corbin’s chance for that $125,000. While we know how we are going to pay for the renovation, that money would help us pay for energy efficient portions of the building. I know of no other “significant assistance from government agencies” we have requested.
As for requesting an “outpouring of support from the community,” we are guilty. Since the renovation of the building turned out to be so much more than we originally anticipated, board members were in a dilemma as to whether to drop the entire project and let the building sit unused or to make changes in our plans. We decided to proceed with the renovation so our patrons would have two of the primary needs indicated on the needs assessment surveys administered at the beginning of this project: a larger library and more parking. In order to proceed with the renovation, the Board of Directors borrowed an additional $200,000, payable as soon as our present building is sold. We covered the rest of the cost with money we had been saving for years to purchase furnishings and other items needed for a new building. When we knew we were not going to be able to buy those items, we did reach out to the community. I was probably most guilty of that; as a lifelong member of this community, I know that people here are very generous to help worthwhile causes. I love the library and can’t imagine a more worthy cause since the library is there for all people of all ages and income levels. If you have ‘checked out’ the library recently, you know that many community members are taking advantage of the treasures to be found there.
Though Mr. Knuckles claims it was not his intention, he has insulted our Board of Directors. It was probably not a lack of confidence that prompted the board member mentioned in the editorial to respond vaguely when questioned by The News-Journal. It was probably that the board member suspected Mr. Knuckles of fishing for specific material to support just such an editorial as he has written.
Finally, Mr. Knuckles says that the Corbin Public Library Board of Directors “answers to no one.” That is not true. We answer to the Kentucky Department of Libraries, the Whitley County taxpayers and the citizens of Corbin. We have open meetings and open records. Our motivation is to serve the best interest of the community, not any individual’s bottom line.
One wonders who Mr. Knuckles is answerable to.
Corbin Public Library
Board of Directors’ President