By Ray Van Dusen/Monroe Journal
HAMILTON – From an information standpoint, Hamilton’s public library serves as the backbone of the community from providing literature, Internet access and a reference point for outsiders seeking knowledge of the town. On a similar note, the library also serves as a social hub for Hamilton as the young and old file in and out for various purposes while spending a little time.
Regrettably, it has found itself, alongside several other community libraries across the state, on the endangered list from the downward spiral of Mississippi’s financial woes.
“Our total funds were cut by 7 percent throughout the past year, but we’re in good shape now thanks to the public’s help. Our next fiscal year begins in October so now we’re planning for the future,” said Belinda Stahl, librarian at Hamilton Public Library.
In addition to state funding, the Hamilton Public Library receives quarterly funding from Monroe County.
The state funding for the library was reduced from an approximate $10,000 to $8,000 in the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Every single state-funded organization has endured the strain of budget cuts during the past several months.
The library has since then become a little more dependent on the goodwill of Hamilton’s residents. Local organizations, Loving Hands; Friends of the Library; and Woodmen of the World, have donated money to the cause along with several individuals. Other businesses and churches have also provided donations for fundraisers and items for raffles with proceeds going to benefit the library.
“We’re making a big push for people to join the Friends of the Library for $10 per year. The funds will go back to purchase books, to support children’s programs or whatever the organization feels worthy,” Stahl said.
People who register for the Friends of the Library at the Grass Shop or the beauty shops of Sandra Gosa or Elaine Dobbs will be registered for one of four prizes to be given away from these businesses and the Hamilton Market at the upcoming Farmer’s Day Festival.
The library will also be donated a quilt from the Depression era during the festival as a fundraiser.