There are few organizations in Sedona that provide as mass an appeal as the Sedona Public Library.
Whether a city-organized committee, a publicly funded nonprofit or a private enterprise, few offer such a wide variety of programs to all age groups and backgrounds in the community. Our newspaper is full of them.
Checking over the weekly calendars we provide each week in both the Sedona Red Rock News and The Scene, I am always amazed by how much it offers. Spanish language classes, humanities programs covering a wide swath of culture and more hands-on classes for kids than you have fingers to count them on.
Search “library” on our website, redrocknews.com, and see all of the events and people who make it happen. And the library also plays host to many clubs for writing, discussion and more. Flip through the pages of most editions, and you’ll see photos of the library — a testament to its place as a pillar of our community.
This may all sound anecdotal, but after more than three years, I’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of different faces in those photos, names I don’t recognize and new programs to complement the longstanding ones.
This is why the city should never have hesitated in accepting the contract committee’s recommendation of $493,932 to the library during its grant process. The city ended up settling on $432,000, but only after City Manager Justin Clifton recommended a low ball of $403,780, which spurred the delay and forced the library to make hopeful estimates in its own budget process.
Clifton’s amount only accounts for inflation. He blames finite resources as the reason, even while admitting the library is a “cornerstone” of the community. Meanwhile, the city seems to have enough money to buy land it doesn’t know what to do with and blow $250,000 on a traffic study when we all know where the problems are.
This is an issue of improper priorities and constant inaction on anything that may be more important than the library.
At least the library has proven time and again that it uses its money in a way that immediately benefits the community.
The library is not a city-owned library, but it does rely on city and county funding in addition to donations. Being in a city that straddles the county line, it gets funding from both Coconino and Yavapai counties. But unlike a city-operated library, it has to ask for much of this funding, not only from the local governments but also of its constituents.
Think of how much money the city saves having a separate governing board operate the library. The city does not have to balance the books, it doesn’t have to determine programming and it certainly doesn’t have to go out and ask for money, what with its power to levy taxes.
If we didn’t have this type of library set up, there would be demand for a municipal library, adding city staff and hours that may not be as focused as those who are at Sedona Public Library and only have library matters to account for.
Since the city has the income, and since it’s unlikely taxes are going to get significantly lower, the money should be spent on something that benefits the most good.
The library system in the Verde Valley in general is strong. These are places for community discussion and education, much more like the libraries of old than the stuffy old places you never wanted to go to as a kid.
Though there are many great organizations in the city that have done a lot, there is no argument the Sedona Public Library is one capable of reaching into all the myriad crevices of our red rock culture.