The Town of Mills is holding an event Saturday night at the Bob Goff Memorial Library so residents can weigh in on the facility’s future.
“We’re trying to get more people involved in the survey process,” Mayor Seth Coleman said. “We want more input on what they want to see in the library. We love to hear the ideas for different things that could be done.”
The facility currently operates as a branch of the Natrona County Library system. But due to understaffing and budget shortfalls, the Natrona County Library’s Board of Trustees voted in December to cut ties with the facility March 29.
Coleman said the library will close at the end of the month — but town officials are planning to eventually take over its operations.
“My hope is that it would reopen this summer since the kids will be out of school,” he said. “But we don’t have a real tight timeline yet.”
At Saturday’s event, which will be held from 4-7 p.m., residents will be able to speak with council members and submit a survey about what services they want the town’s library to offer. Food trucks will also be parked outside, according to a town press release.
Whether the Mills library would ever reopen was initially uncertain. But the Town Council passed a resolution in January stating that “the administrative staff of the Town of Mills, through the direction of its mayor, shall conduct the gathering of public input and commence with the creation of a plan to take over operation of the Mills Bob Goff Library.”
Many residents contacted council members and voiced support for keeping the library open, Coleman said at the time.
The mayor said he is currently unable to provide an estimate of the cost associated with operating the facility independently.
“We need to understand what people want in the library, then we will develop an operational plan and a budget off of that,” he said.
At least one town leader has questioned whether keeping the library open is the best decision.
“I don’t see many residents using it,” Councilwoman Sara McCarthy previously said. “... Libraries are good and important, but these days we have Google and we have smartphones. Personally, I feel that we could probably use that space for something better.”
But McCarthy said the Council will ultimately follow the direction of the town’s residents.
Lisa Scroggins, the executive director for the Natrona County Library, previously explained that the board did not take the decision to cut ties with its Mills branch lightly. But the library has faced many challenges in the last few years and cuts needed to be made.
The Mills library, which is located about three miles from the main facility, isn’t particularly well-utilized. About 51 items are checked out daily, Scroggins said.
“I don’t want to see any libraries close, but I have to look at what is the greater good for the entire county,” she said.