By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE-Just as the Montrose Regional Library District prepares to ask voters for a 0.8 mil levy increase, the Library’s board of trustees welcomes two new members. On Monday, Sept. 21 the Montrose Board of County Commissioners approved Shelly Karo and Robb Ruyle as library trustees, replacing Linda Gann and Bruce Grigsby who have resigned.

The candidates were interviewed for the positions on Sept. 11.  Gann and Grigsby had resigned following a special meeting of the Library board of trustees that took place in May.

“Because of my commitment to the staff of the Montrose Regional Libraries (including Naturita), and my belief that the Library is the foundation of democracy and our community, it was a very difficult decision for me to resign from the Board of Trustees,” Gann said.

With two jobs and a regular column in the Montrose Daily Press, Grigsby said he felt that his work schedule impacted his ability to contribute adequately to the library as a trustee.

“This became especially concerning with the upcoming mil-levy campaign,” Grigsby said, “and I felt it important to make room for someone who would be able to devote the time and energy to the campaign that I simply could not. I firmly believe that our library is one of the truly great assets of the community and has established a world-class accumulation of achievements and service over many years.”

Of three known applicants who applied, Ruyle has an extensive background of involvement with the Montrose Regional Library. According to the library’s web site, he first joined the Board of Trustees in 1990, where he served for ten years, and was President from 1992 to 1998.  He rejoined the Board in 2007.

Ann Gulliksen who serves as secretary of the Library’s board of trustees, said that while she is pleased to have Ruyle back on the board, Karo’s involvement is especially exciting.

“She is from Naturita,” Gulliksen said. “I am very excited to work with someone from the West End. She will bring her perspective for community direction and community support. The library should be community-driven.”

Gulliksen said she was not present to record what transpired at the special meeting May 6, though she and others acknowledged that the Library’s longtime director Paul Paladino tendered his resignation during that meeting. Paladino prepares meeting minutes for most trustee meetings so that she can take part in the business of the meeting, she said.  Minutes of Library Trustee meetings do not reflect any resignation.
Paladino said that of those who had applied to fill the seats left open by Grigsby and Gann, the two presented to the BOCC were those who had applied while the application process was open.

“We have placed the other names on file, as we may or may not have openings at the end of the year,” Paladino said.

Proposed Mill Levy Increase

The proposed mil levy increase, which would cost the median homeowner $9.88 per year and the average business around $95.00 per year, would restore the library to pre-recession full-service levels. The Library’s Board of Trustees chose to go ahead with the proposed increase after undertaking a survey of stakeholders.

“We had more than 900 responses to the survey,” Library Development Officer Amy McBride said. “The library is so important to so many people in our community; in reading the responses I realized that many people believe the closures and cuts to hours have compromised quality of life.

“To be able to restore service to people is the most important thing to me.”

The Montrose Regional Library could once again be open seven days per week, restoring Saturday service. The 34 percent yearly cut in the materials budget can be restored. Bookmobile stops can be visited every week instead of every other week. Preventive maintenance that is currently being deferred at District facilities could be scheduled and performed.

So far, response to the Library’s campaign to increase the mil levy has been supportive, said Emily Schneider, who has been co-chairing the campaign.

“It has been going very well,” she said. “We have had lots of interest from people who want to know how they can help. It is amazing how busy our library is—I hope we can convert that love for the library into votes.”