Battle over books: Pipestone Area Schools files civil complaint against city of Pipestone over community library

KELOLAND.com Original

PIPESTONE, Minn. (KELO) — A legal battle between the school and city is brewing in Pipestone. 

On April 9, the Pipestone Area Schools school district filed a civil complaint against the city of Pipestone and the Meinders Community Library Board. The civil case has been assigned to Judge Tricia Zimmer in District Court.  

According to court documents (attached below), the school district wants a judge to rule in favor of the school district having the authority to make hiring and staffing decisions, not the city or library board. The school district also wants a judge’s ruling on the library board’s membership and to overrule new library bylaws created in 2016. 

The school district is also seeking an order granting and awarding the district its costs and disbursements as well as other and further relief as the court deems just and equitable.

According to school board minutes, the Pipestone Area School Board unanimously supported a motion to “declare the rights and obligations of the parties to the joint power’s agreement regarding the library.”

KELOLAND News has also reached out to the city of Pipestone for comment.

Pipestone Area School Board chairman Jeff Baatz said the school board was advised by its lawyer to seek a legal judgement on the agreements over the library.

“We expect the legal system to take its course. Somebody needs to give opinion,” Baatz said. “There’s been a difference of opinion on the agreements in place.”

Baatz noted the library is a school library first and said he wasn’t aware of the workings of the Plum Creek Library System.

Court documents say the city and the school entered a “community library agreement” in 1975, which combined the school district library and city library. The community library was named the “Meinders Community Library” in 2003. 

In 1991, a city ordinance reestablished the community library as a public library under state Minnesota law. The 1991 ordinance said the city and school district would “jointly finance and operate the library for the use and benefit of the public and school district.” 

The Meinders Community Library is attached to the Pipestone middle and high school building. According to the school district’s website, the library employs four staff members. 

It is also part of a nine-county, 26-member Plum Creek Library System.

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