Sno-Isle drops $87 fee for outsiders

Everett will continue to charge nonresidents $100 for its libraries


Herald Writer

Starting in January, bookworms in Everett will no longer need to pay $87 to check out items from the county’s largest library system.

On the flip side, people who don’t live in Everett who want to check out materials here will still pay a $100 annual fee.

The Sno-Isle Regional Library System board of trustees announced Monday it will drop its nonresident fee.

"It’s a way to be a good neighbor," Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, deputy director of Sno-Isle, said, explaining why the fee was dropped.

The policy change applies to people who live outside the Sno-Isle district, but who live in communities that financially support libraries. Sno-Isle serves more than 550,000 residents in Snohomish and Island counties.

Everett has two libraries in a separate system.

"If your tax dollars support library service, then you deserve access to libraries," said Art Weeks, director of Sno-Isle. "Our goal is to bring people together with books, technology and other resources. It shouldn’t matter where you live."

Before 1998, anyone living outside the library system who wanted to check out materials from Sno-Isle could do so after paying a nonresident fee. In 1999, the board required fees to be limited to those living in communities that already support a library system, such as Everett or Mount Vernon, Sno-Isle spokeswoman Mary Kelly said.

Woodway residents, for example, could no longer purchase nonresident cards because taxpayers there do not support a library system.

That won’t change starting Jan. 1. In 1998, Woodway voters turned down a proposal to annex into the Sno-Isle system.

In 1999, Sno-Isle ended a reciprocal agreement with Everett. Until then, Sno-Isle paid an annual fee to Everett so Sno-Isle residents could use that library system. The agreement allowed residents to check out materials at either library system for free.

Sno-Isle sold only 15 nonresident cards this year at $87 each.

Kelly said Sno-Isle residents are more likely to use the Everett Library than Everett residents using the Sno-Isle libraries because of convenience. Many people who live within Sno-Isle’s service area work in Everett, for example.

The Everett Library sells about 200 nonresident cards each year. That $20,000 goes into the city’s general fund, said Mark Nesse, Everett Library director.

Kelly said the Sno-Isle board has struggled with the nonresident fees for the past few years. The fee was in place to equalize nonresident use with resident use.

Nesse said under the former reciprocal agreement, about 37 percent of Everett’s materials were being checked out by residents who didn’t live in Everett. At the same time Sno-Isle’s fee to the city amounted to only about 5 percent of Everett Library’s $3.5 million budget, he said. Nesse said that wasn’t fair to city residents.

Nesse said Everett officials have not discussed dropping the nonresident fee, an action that would need City Council approval.

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