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Saturday, May 25, 2024

York Supervisors Approve Agreement with Williamsburg Regional Library

The Williamsburg Regional Library.
The Williamsburg Regional Library

All York County residents — not just those living in the upper county — will be able to enjoy services provided by the Williamsburg Regional Library.

The York County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1, with Supervisor Sheila Noll opposed, to approve a new contract agreement that will allow York residents to use the two WRL locations, one in the City of Williamsburg and one in James City County.

At its June meeting, the WRL Board of Trustees signed off on the new York County agreement. Although York County had been contributing funds to the library for years, the new agreement upgrades the county to a library partner.

Services will be provided to York residents at 80 percent of what is provided to residents of Williamsburg and James City, but the services will be an increase over what York residents previously enjoyed.

York residents will be able to check out 32 items, increased from 20; 12 items can be placed on hold rather than five; and two interlibrary loans can be used, up from one.

Because these services are reduced compared to the other two jurisdictions, York County will pay a reduced rate for its citizens to use the library. York will contribute about 12 percent—up from about 8.5 percent. Williamsburg contributes about 21 percent and James City contributes about 67 percent.

The new contract originally went before the board for a vote Sept. 3, but Noll asked for a deferral. She had some outstanding questions and wanted to hold a public hearing.

No public hearing was held Tuesday, but Noll said she received the information she needed.

“I must say that I rue the day that what began as a voluntary gesture changed the type of contract we have facing us today,” Noll said, referring to the voluntary contribution York had been making for years.

Noll, who is the only elected official in all three jurisdictions to vote against the contract, said none of the 91 public libraries across the state has gone to the extreme WRL has to allow another locality access. The contract is valid until York County decides it would like to withdraw from the contract. The county would then have to provide two years’ notice.

“I am for equitable library services for all citizens, regardless of where they live,” Noll said, explaining she could not support the agreement because it goes against what she believes a public library should stand for.

The other supervisors were not swayed by Noll’s comments.

Supervisor Don Wiggins said he has always been an advocate of York residents using WRL, and it can’t be expected for the library to provide services for free. He said the cost to build a library, including debt service, would result in 20 years’ payments of $900,000, including about $1 million per year for operation costs. There is a savings to the county for entering the WRL agreement rather than building a new library.

“I for the life of me cannot understand why people can’t look at that and see that in black and white. Which is the best thing York County can do for the taxpayers? Have the agreement with Williamsburg-James City County. I can’t see why anybody would think otherwise, Mr. Chairman,” Wiggins said.

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