Town of Clayton Water Tower at Sunset
Welcome the Town of Clayton, North Carolina

Clayton Library:
919-553-5542

Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
​Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m to 2 p.m.​

 

Town leaders and staff know you're interested to learn more about recent changes in our library.  With change comes uncertainty but also opportunity. We’re truly excited about the new improvements underway for patrons of Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library – in programming, operations and services.  We want you to share in that excitement.  The answers to these Frequently Asked Questions are aimed at helping you understand what’s going on, but we encourage anyone who still has questions or concerns about anything related to the library to please reach out to us. 

What are the goals of Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library?
What does it take to operate Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library?
Does any state or federal money go to Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library?
I don’t pay Town of Clayton property taxes, but I do pay Johnston County property taxes – does any of my money go to Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library?
Why would Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library “break-away” from the “Johnston County Library System”?
Why is having your own catalog better than sharing a catalog?  
How does the new catalog work?
What were the benefits of leaving the affiliated network of independent libraries in Johnston County and now being recognized by the State Library of North Carolina?
Why are you charging for library cards? Are you just trying to generate revenue?
What do you use with the money you collect for library cards?
Is there any precedent for charging different fees for in-town vs. out-of-town residents?
Who gets a library card for free?
Exactly who has to pay for a library card and how much?
Public libraries are free, why are you going to charge me to use your library?
What if I don’t want a library card and just want to use the computers or read while in the library?
Are there fees for things like Storytime or the Summer Reading Program?

What are the goals of Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library?

Town Council just approved our exciting Long-Range Plan, click here to check it out.

•    Improve Communication
•    Create partnerships to become a community resource for information
•    Provide cutting-edge technology
•    Meet the needs of young adults 
•    Encourage preservation and appreciation for Clayton’s history
•    Build on programming for seniors and children 

What does it take to operate Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library? 

Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library has always been owned and operated by the Town of Clayton, with generous help from the non-profit Friends of the Library, Inc.  Today, we manage the lending of hundreds of thousands of books books and materials annually in a building that is open 6 days a week, 10 hours a day most of the week. It takes a staff of 14 employees to serve the more than 70,000 visitors who walk through the door each year.  We manage and provide technology in our computer room and are continuously purchasing new additions to meet the increasing demand for digital eBooks, which for libraries can cost as much as 4 times more than the same book in printed form! The Town of Clayton’s budget to operate Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library FOR JUST ONE YEAR is more than half a million dollars.

Does any county, state or federal money go to Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library?

The Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library does NOT receive any money directly from Johnston County. Now that our library has been recognized by the State Library, we do now receive some funding from North Carolina. It was a long process to apply for this NC State Library recognition, but it's also now made us eligible for grants and other funding opportunities.  Previously, the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield was the only entity in the county that received direct library funding from the state.

I don’t pay Town of Clayton property taxes, but I do pay Johnston County property taxes – does any of my money go to Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library?

No.  The only support the county has ever given Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library was in 1979 when a $15,000 grant was given to the Town of Clayton to construct the first library building.  In the 36 years since the county’s one-time contribution, the Town of Clayton has been solely responsible for the annual operating costs of the library, which is roughly half-a-million dollars a year.

Why would Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library “break-away” from the “Johnston County Library System”?

Despite misconceptions, a “Johnston County Library System” does not exist, nor has it ever existed.  In counties like Wake, which DOES indeed have a true county-library system, each library is an official branch of a unified county-library system. In Johnston County, however, each library is funded by their individual towns. In the 1980’s, the Town of Clayton entered into an Affiliation Agreement with the other municipal libraries in Johnston County and the non-profit organization known as the Public Library of Johnston County & Smithfield.  This affiliation created the illusion of a county library system, however, each library remains independent in terms of operations and funding.  The main advantage of the affiliation was the ability to share a catalog and books across libraries.  We did not come to the decision to end the agreement lightly.  Our patrons are our number one concern and our goal is to provide the highest possible level of service to meet our patrons’ expectations and demands.

Why is having your own catalog system better than sharing a catalog? 

The Town of Clayton has grown and our residents’ expectations of library services have expanded and matured. Not having control of our book catalog often led to delays in patrons receiving books. With a shared catalog hosted by the affiliate system, our library was not able to generate local reports on lending, patron demographics and other data needed to learn patron preferences and identify trends in library services.  With our own catalog, we will have that capability to help improve your experience. Also, rather than be subject to loans to other libraries in the county, with our own catalog, our collection will be more available to patrons of Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library. 

So how does the new catalog work? 

We were SO excited to introduce our brand-new, user-friendly web-based catalog!  It’s an open-source catalog called Koha and is used by hundreds of libraries worldwide. It has an incredible user-friendly interface and can even function in different languages. Also, instead of having a separate catalog for eBooks, you’re able to see ALL titles in ALL of their available formats in this one place. Controlling our own catalog will allow us to have direct access to our collection, expedite getting books to our patrons and will allow us to assess data to better track the interests and demands of our library patrons. It should come online in June. 

What were the benefits of leaving the affiliated network of independent libraries in Johnston County and being recognized by the State Library of North Carolina? 

We feel that leaving the affiliated network of independent libraries gave us the autonomy to make the best choices for our patrons. As an independent library, Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library is now able to receive and administer grants and state funding and ensure that it is used to best benefit our patrons.  We are now allowed to receive direct funding from the Aid to Public Libraries Fund.  Because we are now a stand-alone library, Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library is now a member of OCLC – the Online Computer Library Center, Inc.  This member-owned library resource connects us to the collections of thousands of libraries through the largest interlibrary loan network in the world! 

Also, we provide another new service which allows greater access to bestsellers. This ensures lesser wait times on those popular books, so you can get those titles when they’re hot!

The library launched a new eBook platform allows patrons to borrow eBooks and stream videos anywhere, anytime. Overdrive is one of the top-rated eBook apps, offering Kindle-compatible titles and digital video downloads in addition to eBooks – all you need is your Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library card.

Why did you decide to charge for library cards? Were you just trying to generate revenue?

Beginning in June of 2015, Town Council voted to begin a $25 annual library card fee for people who do not live, own property or run a business in the Town of Clayton town limits. There is no card fee for educators. The library card fee is not a tax, it is a user fee.  Unlike a tax, you are not required to pay the fee, unless you choose to consume library services from Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library. And many of our paying card members think of it as a worthy investment.

We want to create a situation where consumers can choose what they want. People can choose to live in-town and receive town services as part of their regular property tax, like a bundle, or they can choose to live out-of-town and pay fees for the services they desire. We are just trying to level the playing field so that people can make an informed choice. No operation is sustainable when large numbers of consumers do not contribute to its financial well-being. Out-of-town patrons, unless they generously make donations to the Friends of the Library, do not contribute toward the library services they are consuming. 

We in no way want to discourage participation of patrons from outside our town limits. We do, however, expect that those patrons will assume their fair share of the ongoing costs of operations. 

Money was not the motivator for the library card fee.  We do not expect the fee to generate any kind of substantial revenue. The purpose of the fee is to create equivalency for in-town and out-of-town patrons. 

What do you use with the money you collect for library cards? 

We expect to use the money to enhance the library’s collection. 

Is there any precedent for charging different fees for in-town vs. out-of-town residents?

Yes, the Town of Clayton has used a similar system for its recreation services for decades. That approach was expanded when we opened the Clayton Community Center.  That system has worked very well. Our recreation program increases in participation every year, both for in-town and out-of-town participants. Similarly, the library fee is neither punitive nor exclusionary.  What many people may fail to recognize – and this is something the town deals with daily – is that western Johnston County has changed. In decades past Clayton was the population center for western Johnston County, but the intensive growth in the unincorporated areas around Clayton presents a whole new variable to deal with. When the county was rural and agriculture-based, issues of cost equity were less significant because residents in the unincorporated areas had limited impact on town facilities and services. That is no longer the case. In simple terms, the booming growth in the unincorporated area of western Johnston County will eventually overwhelm the town’s ability to provide quality services unless a more equitable system for sharing of costs is implemented. Most don't like hearing that, but it is a fact that out-of-town residents freely enjoy the investment made through tax proceeds from in-town residents. The library is just one example.

Who gets a library card for free?

•    Anyone 7 years or older who lives within the corporate town limits of the Town of Clayton 
•    Anyone who works for educational institutions within Johnston County
•    Anyone who does not live, but who owns and pays taxes on property within the corporate town limits of the Town of Clayton
•    Anyone who owns a business within the corporate limits of the Town of Clayton 

Exactly who has to pay for a library card and how much?

Anyone who lives outside the corporate town limits of the Town of Clayton will be required to pay an annual fee of $25 for a library card, the equivalent of 6 cents a day.  The card entitles you to check out unlimited books from our collection, eBooks and grants you free access to the internet and library computers.  You can also purchase a library card for half a year for $15 or for a quarter of a year for $10.  A family can purchase an annual card for $50.  A family is considered a household of 2 or more members. 

Public libraries are free, why are you going to charge me to use your library? 

There is no such thing as free public library.  All libraries, regardless of their political, organizational or governmental affiliation, have funding needs and those needs are generally met by the taxpayers.  In the case of Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library, it’s the Town of Clayton’s General Fund that pays for the library. By far, the majority of money in that fund is from Town of Clayton taxpayers, in other words, residents who pay property taxes for living inside that town limits.  

What if I don’t want a library card and just want to use the computers or read while in the library?

You may come to the library to read our books, magazines or explore the history room any time for free.  Non-card holders will be asked to pay a $5/hour internet use fee in our computer room.

Are there fees for things like Storytime or the Summer Reading Program?

There are not fees for library programming like our popular weekly Story Time, book clubs, etc.  A library card is required to check out physical materials from the library or to use the internet and computer terminals at no charge. 

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