Beginning sometime next week residents of Liberty Lake will be able to sign up for free library cards at Spokane County Library District.
While the Liberty Lake Library has offered free nonresident cards for some time, the county district has been charging Liberty Lake residents $100 a year for a nonresident card.
“Ever since the library here was founded, there was some concern about not being able to use the county library system,” said Liberty Lake Library director Pamela Mogen. “That’s always been an ongoing concern.”
The southern city limits of Liberty Lake are at Sprague Avenue, but many library patrons live south of that line. They were charged a nonresident card fee for a few months when the Liberty Lake Library first opened, Mogen said.
“We were able to speak to our City Council and get that dropped,” she said. “We were able to repay everybody who signed up.”
About 20 percent of library patrons are nonresidents, Mogen said. “That’s a lot, when you consider that we have just under 6,000 cards that have been issued that are current.”
Spokane County Library District director Nancy Ledeboer said she looked into the issue after Mogen mentioned it while giving Ledeboer a tour of the Liberty Lake Library. “People want to use the library that’s most convenient to them,” she said.
The details of the agreement are the same as the district’s agreement with the city of Spokane. Books must be returned to the library where they are checked out. “We’re not going to have a courier going back and forth,” Ledeboer said.
Certain digital items will also be off limits to Liberty Lake residents. “We have license agreements for that that say it’s limited to our district’s residents,” she said.
The county libraries will be ready to offer the new cards within a week, she said. Word that the Liberty Lake City Council voted to approve the agreement has already gotten out and Ledeboer said she’s already had people show up at the Spokane Valley branch asking for cards. “I think there is a mutual benefit,” she said.
Mogen said she had tried to get an agreement with the district on nonresident cards before with no luck. “I think it’s been made possible by Nancy Ledeboer,” she said. “There was no traction previous to her taking over the directorship of the county library.”
The two organizations will monitor the use of nonresident cards to make sure the agreement is fair and working well. “I’m really just excited about this new era of cooperation among the libraries,” Mogen said. “I believe everybody is going to win.”