"An ordinary man can . . . surround himself with 2,000 books . . . and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy." - Augustine Birrell
Highland residents have been busy checking out the American Fork Library.
Last year, Highland residents checked out 22,001 books from the library, and according to American Fork Librarian Julie Farnsworth, 620 of Highland's 870 households - 71 percent - have active library cards.
Access to the library for Highland residents is provided through an agreement between the two cities. Highland City pays an annual fee to American Fork on behalf of its residents instead of requiring each resident to pay an out-of-town library card fee of $20.
This arrangement was reached in 1987 after the library began charging the $20 fee. "It was a classic example of win-win negotiating," Farnsworth said. "Highland won because they obtained library services much more cheaply than they could have on their own, Highland residents won because they had access to the library, the library won because we could serve our natural client base and American Fork City won because of the additional revenue."
There are two reasons the City Council decided to pay the library fee for its residents, Highland Mayor Larry Miller said.
"We feel that as a government entity it is a service that ought to be available to people in town, particularly children," Miller said. "When the residents paid, the usage was lower than we thought it should be.
"It was also a matter of economics - if we paid a lump sum it was actually cheaper than if families paid individually," Miller said. "We're happy to be able to extend that (service) because some families might not have been able to afford it otherwise."
Response from Highland residents regarding the new arrangement has been overwhelming; library use in June 1988 was up 439 percent from June 1987 and has continued to grow.
"It was more difficult (to use the library) when we used to have a fee," Highland resident Char Copier said. "My kids use it a lot for school. It has really been resourceful and helpful. We're so close to American Fork. . . . There is only one store in Highland, so this is town for us."
Others agree. "More people are using the library because it is more accessible and not as expensive," said Susan Pontious, a Highland resident. Pontious' five children, 5 to 18 years old, are frequent library visitors.
"I went to college and I was afraid to use a library," Pontious said. "I decided my kids were not going to be afraid to use a library."