County receives GRRL annual report


At a time when the world is going more paperless all the time in terms of how people get and retain information, it would seem like libraries could be on their way to becoming a thing of the past. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case in Wright County, as the county board of commissioners learned at its Jan. 27 meeting that the Great River Regional Library is still boasting strong numbers of customers and usage in Wright County.
Karen Pundsack, the interim director of GRRL, made the presentation of the library system’s annual report, which showed that Wright County continues to be the backbone of the system. Commissioner Pat Sawatzke said that Wright County has always had a commitment to libraries and, with nine GRRL branches located in Wright County cities, the use of the facilities remains strong.
“I think we’re the highest use county in the entire system,” Sawatzke said. “We’re really fortunate to have nine libraries for a county geographically of our size. Our model provides us a lot of service compared to the cost to operate the libraries.”
Of its 32 libraries, nine GRRL facilities are in Wright County, with branches in Annandale, Buffalo, Clearwater, Cokato, Delano, Howard Lake, Monticello, Rockford and St. Michael. It was estimated that 26 percent of Wright County residents are library cardholders and in 2014, they checked out more than 1 million items, representing more than 25 percent of the items checked out systemwide.
In 2014, 365,000 people visited Wright County libraries with programs designed for children, teens, adults and families regularly scheduled. With the changeover from paper books to more on-line sources of information, the standard library as most of us have known it over the years is undergoing significant change. But, Sawatzke said, despite the challenges facing libraries, both the GRRL system and other library systems, are going to have to adapt to the change, but that, for the time being, the numbers remain extremely strong.
“Libraries have changed in recent years because of the change in services and needs of the public,” Sawatzke said. “That will be a challenge in the future, but it is encouraging to see that the use numbers in Wright County are so strong.” 
In other items on the Jan. 27 agenda, the board:
* Received word that, while not officially approved, the state has given the green light for funding of the I-94 expansion project between Rogers and Monticello as part of its 2015 funding process.
* Approved payment of $3,531 to the firm of Madden, Galenter & Hansen for labor relations services provided to the county board in the month of December 2014.
* Accepted the annual report from county drainage inspector Mike Young. Young became the county drainage inspector July 14 and his report covers the period of July 14 through the end of 2014. Young listed the goals for 2015, which included taking a proactive approach to ditch inspections as well as anticipated repairs that will be needed in 2015.
* Approved the minutes of the owners committee of the whole, which unanimously recommended moving forward with the next phase of the highway department building project, including proceeding with the development of a schematic design and the design and development stage of the project.
* On the unanimous recommendation of the planning commission, approved a request from a landowner in Franklin Township to rezone 34 acres of land from general agricultural to agricultural residential, making the property available for sale in smaller land parcels.
* Approved backfilling a case aid position in the family services unit of the human services department.
* Approved the appointment of John F. Jones of Silver Creek Township to the board of adjustment.
* Scheduled an owners committee meeting 10 a.m. Wednesday Feb. 4 and 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, as well as an owners committee of the whole meeting for 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 18.