Image: The Montgomery County government’s $9.4 million per year libraries are as outdated as this old bookmobile.
Conroe, August 11 – Montgomery County Library Director Jerilynne Williams received the “Golden Hammer Award” for hammering the taxpayers in the amount of $9.4 million with her library system that is sorely out of date and fails to meet the genuine needs of taxpayers and citizens. It’s a sad reality that the taxpayers are running out of money, as governments snatch up well over 55% of disposable income (the official term is personal income, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis).
The Golden Hammer Award presentation occurred at the August 8, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting.
Williams is a nice lady. She works hard. Nevertheless, her approach to her County Department is out of the touch with the reality of the fiscal conditions of Montgomery County citizens in 2017 who desperately need a break from the backbreaking burden of taxes. Williams’ $9.4 million library budget is almost 3.2% of the County’s operational expenditure budget.
Williams’ salary has grown a whopping 77% in 12 years! In 2017, she makes $138,521, plus benefits of approximately $55,893, for total compensation of approximately $194,414 per year!!! In 2005, Williams earned $78,179 salary per year plus benefits of approximately $31,271. With income growth like that, it’s not surprising that Williams is an advocate for the library.
The reality of libraries, however, is that the use pattern of them has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. It’s sad to see that people read a lot less than they used to read. But the citizens are running out of money and can’t afford taxes imposed upon them to pay for government services that are increasingly unused.
When one walks into an empty library on a Saturday afternoon, one must ask the question why 3.2% of our County budget is paying to keep this operation going? Citizens in Montgomery County simply cannot afford that much nostalgia.
It’s important to note that the “Golden Hammer Award” was not an argument for abolishing libraries or books. Rather, Williams needs to show substantial leadership, which means that she must not only advocate for more money spent on books and outdated library services. Rather, she must advocate for the taxpayers.
The New York Public Library has radically shifted its profile to deliver online services far more than bricks, mortar, and books taking up space sitting on shelves.
Electronic books are available on the Internet. Massive databases, encyclopedias, research tools, newspaper collections, periodicals, and even reference librarians are available at people’s finger tips while sitting in the comfort of their home. The cost of home computers and of portable electronic devices, such as iPhones or iPads, has come down so far that few people do not easily have access to those services and the massive resources contained through the Internet.
The Memorial Library System is not a growing business but a shrinking one. Citizens don’t need the libraries any longer as office equipment locations. Those who can’t afford office equipment to look for jobs, create resumes, or complete online applications have many tools available at easily accessible institutions, such as Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions and the Texas Workforce Commission.
Williams should fulfill her responsibility to the taxpayers, which means she needs to consider what operations in her extraordinarily outdated library system should be eliminated or consolidated while she makes available those services most consistently utilized. The taxpayers of this County should dictate those decisions, not edicts of the American Library Association with its liberal political bent.