Non resident, library-use fee may change

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DIXFIELD – A decision by Peru voters last month to cease funding Ludden Memorial Library has prompted the library’s board to look into changing non resident user fees.

Librarian Peggy Malley told selectmen Monday night that Peru voters turned down the annual request of $1,500 to help with library operation costs.

Dixfield’s Ludden Memorial Library also serves residents of Peru, Canton and Carthage at no cost, provided the towns pay a fee each year.

Malley said this is the first time in her memory that Peru residents refused to approve the annual $1,500 for use of the library. Residents in Canton and Carthage each agreed to pay their annual $200 fee at their respective town meetings.

“The Library Board of Trustees is working on a per capita cost,” she told selectmen.

She said on Tuesday that about 500 Peru residents use the Dixfield library, while between 50 and 100 Carthage residents use the library, and just over 100 Canton residents use it.

Non-resident $10 fees have been in place for years. Those fees expire June 30, which is also the expiration date for Peru residents to use the library at no cost.

Malley said trustees plan to discuss a new fee at their May meeting.

“We’ve never stopped to figure out whether we make or lose money,” she said.

With the addition of Peru residents, the library will serve about 1,000 non-residents. Others come from Jay, Rumford, Mexico and Weld. The total number of people who use the library is about 2,750.

She told selectmen on Monday that she has heard from several Peru residents who said they plan to use the library even if they have to personally pay a use fee.

Selectmen Chairman Tony Carter said he isn’t sure if the board must approve a change in non-resident user fees.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board approved the purchase of a computer system at a cost of $20,782. Funding was approved at last year’s annual town meeting.

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