LARL director excited for new library, presents 2024 budget to Clay board

Clay County Commission

Dan Haglund

The Lake Agassiz Regional Library director presented her 2024 budget before the Clay County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday in Moorhead.

LARL director Liz Lynch’s budget numbers remained fairly static from this year, but she and her staff are quite excited about what lies ahead in the near future.

“In Moorhead, we are so excited about the new community center and public library,” Lynch said. “It will also be the home to the Lake Agassiz Regional Library headquarters. Construction on this project will begin in the spring of 2024, and we’re hoping to occupy the building around fall of 2025. It just cannot get here soon enough, it sure is exciting.”

The planned library is currently in the schematic design phase, and will be in the design development phase soon.

“That project is going to be such a great amenity for those who live in the city of Moorhead, but also we have an awful lot of Clay County residents outside of the city who will be using this facility as well,” Lynch said.

The LARL encompasses seven counties with 13 branch public libraries and nine LINK sites. Within Clay County, the LARL provides services to the cities of Barnesville, Hawley, Ulen and Moorhead.

Regarding the Ulen LINK site, Lynch says it is not identified as a public library by the state because it’s open only nine hours per week. It has only houses about 500 items for checkout, but as a LINK site patrons can request items from elsewhere within the library system for delivery by a courier.

Hawley, Barnesville and Moorhead have full public libraries.

Lynch said the libraries within the county are doing well, and are back up to pre-pandemic numbers for all services.

“We are still seeing a lot of people using our public computers across the region,” Lynch said. “Not everyone has a computer at home. Not everyone has Internet access at home. Not everyone has unlimited data. So people are still coming in to their public libraries, and they’re still checking out books.”

Commissioner David Ebinger, Dist. 5, also bandied his wholehearted support for the LARL mission.

“A couple things have really struck me about our library system here,” Ebinger said. “One, is it really is a countywide asset. Any resources we’ve got in this area can be shared. Something else that’s really important as we watched this go through the pandemic. This is an access point for a lot of people with limited resources. This is where they can apply for jobs. This is where they can look for jobs. This is where they can look for education, to get certification that will allow them to find employment. It’s even an access point for the legal system.”

Ebinger touts specifically the library staff for working with all people, directing them to myriad services for all individual requests.

Commissioner Frank Gross, Dist. 2, inquired if the library had been receiving the updated sales tax monies, and Lynch replied that yes it has, since April.

One budget inquiry came from Commissioner Jenny Mongeau, Dist. 3. She was wondering why the library budget for 2024 included a reduction for vehicle costs. Lynch replied that the library formerly had one vehicle, but no longer has it. Lynch added that a lot of former travel has been replaced by Zoom meetings.

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