The recent article about the severe financial challenges facing the Hudson Area Library should remind River Falls Public Library patrons of our good fortune in having such a positive working relationship with our City Council and administration (SO, March 25, 2021).

While nearly all of us -- citizens, organizations and governments -- are having to adjust our finances in this pandemic, we also know that we must continue to commit resources to that which best serves our community in the long run. We heartily thank our tax-paying citizens for their ongoing support of our library.

I am concerned, however, about an inaccurate comparison made in the article between the pay rates of “librarians” of the Hudson and River Falls libraries. The article compared Hudson’s bachelor-degreed staff to River Falls’ master-degreed staff. While River Falls’ bachelor-degreed staff do make more than the equivalent staff at Hudson (who are, as was reported, considerably underpaid), almost all RF staff also work only half time, have no health benefits, and make less than $20,000 a year.

Our four professional librarians all have master’s degrees in library science, work full time, and have many years of employment in libraries. They are paid about $33 per hour.—which is remarkably close to the average income of residents of River Falls.

Our current library director (also with the master’s, of course) has worked diligently to develop efficiencies in all areas without sacrificing the high standards of our library services and programs that our community has come to expect.

I am proud of all the staff who work together for the success of our RFPL, but it is important for the public to understand the facts about both the various educational levels of staff as well as the resulting differences in responsibilities and, therefore, in salaries. River Falls has a long history of placing exceptional value in our library as a center for community life. To that end, we invest in it. 

Fully educated librarians bring a wealth of knowledge, skills, and insights to our patrons, and fully funded libraries bring a wide range of necessary services to all of the citizens of our communities. We send our best wishes to the city of Hudson, its Library Board and the committed library staff as they face and surmount their challenges.

Rebecca Ferguson

President of the River Falls  Library Board of Trustees

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