Nora Roberts donates $25,000 to campaign opposing Craighead County library system funding cuts

Funds to aid Save Our Libraries

Author Nora Roberts has made a large donation to a group opposing an initiative that would drastically cut the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library System's funding.

Roberts, author of more than 200 romance novels, donated $25,000 to Save Our Libraries, according to a news release.

A group called Citizens Taxed Enough developed an initiative to cut the library system's funding nearly in half to save "Craighead taxpayers over $1 million annually," according to a news release issued in September.

The measure will go before voters in the Nov. 8 General Election. The ballot issue asks that voters decrease the current 2.0 mill tax for the library system to 1.0 mill. Early voting begins Monday.

In a news release posted on the Save Our Libraries Facebook page, Scott McDaniel, Ballot Question Committee member, said in a statement: "This incredibly kind and generous donation gives us the foundation we need to start making our case to the voters."

Phyllis Burkett, chairperson of Save Our Libraries, said the group has raised "quite a bit of local money" to pay off the first batch of campaign signs they've ordered, but there are more things they are trying to work toward.

She said members of the group will meet next week to discuss how the donation will be used to reach voters -- including ads and other media resources.

Burkett was told late last week the group may see a large donation from a nationally recognized author, but she wasn't told who it was.

"There were other people communicating with [Roberts] what our needs were, what we intended to do, and again, the effect of losing this kind of money," she said.

Burkett says she believes Roberts knows what cutting the library system's funding would mean to the community.

"It concerns me that people think rural libraries aren't important or that we can still keep them open at the same level of services," she said. "We can't even find anybody to work part time, hardly anymore; everybody needs a full-time job."

The group has said the initiative will cause the library to lose state funding, outreach programs, and internet services to the community.

A news release posted on Facebook from Citizens Taxed Enough said the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library System is one of only 10 libraries in the state collecting 2 mills of tax revenue.

Spokesperson Iris Stevens said in the news release, "While taxpayers are experiencing 40-year high inflation, record gas prices, record rent, and mortgage prices and families having to choose between paying for school supplies and buying gas for their vehicles, it's time put taxpayers first and protect our country taxpayers."

Information for this article was contributed by Teresa Moss of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.