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Residents of Charlotte and Delmar have access to the DeWitt Public Library after the library board decided to change its policy.

“This makes sense if our goal is life-long learning,” said Kari Bossom, library board president, before the unanimous decision. 

The DeWitt Library Board last November made what they acknowledged at the time was a difficult decision to deny library services to residents of Charlotte and Delmar after a change was made by the Clinton County Library Association in how residents in rural towns are charged for those services. 

The association made the changes to try and achieve fairness in what all Clinton County communities paid, moving to charging a per capita fee versus charging per card issued. The move did result in an increase in what Charlotte and Delmar typically paid for the services annually.

As a result, those two cities opted to contract with the Maquoketa Public Library as their home library at a lower cost. 

Last week, the DeWitt library board reversed its decision at its regular monthly meeting after Janette McMahon, who arrived in July to become the library director, informed them that DeWitt was the only library in the county not honoring contracts with all cities.

Iowa has open access, allowing residents who have a library card to use their card at any library in the state. However, there are some exceptions to this policy under state library regulations.

Library board members discussed the spirit of open access and their desire to not limit services before their decision. 

The board also approved several other changes in the library’s circulation policy, including:

• No longer charging for Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Previously, patrons paid $3 per item. McMahon said since the library no longer pays for postage, the charge is not necessary. 

• Charging 50 cents for color copies instead of $1. Black and white copies are 15 cents. 

• Clarification of what identification is needed to issue a library card. 

The board also agreed to hire a media specialist to replace Kate Karkosh, who will be leaving the library in November. Karkosh, whose title is Library Assistant II, has consistently taken on more technology and marketing duties, and McMahon said the title of the new position will reflect that.

McMahon also reported that the library issued 116 new cards in September, which was library card sign-up month. The usual monthly average is about 25. The library’s grand opening to celebrate its expansion was held last month.