Judge orders sale of unwanted books to go to library district

The battle between the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District and the non-profit group that contributes funds to it may have entered its last chapter on Monday.

District Judge Mark Denton issued a preliminary injunction barring the Friends of Southern Nevada Libraries from distributing any money made from the sale of unwanted library books or other materials to any entity but the library district.

Denton also ordered an audit of the Friends of Southern Nevada Libraries, which was formed in 1971.

The preliminary injunction stems from an April 14 lawsuit filed by the library district against the Friends of Southern Nevada Libraries. The lawsuit claims that the non-profit group wasn't giving the library district all the money earned through book sales and called for an audit.

The lawsuit alleges that the Friends raised $253,862 through sales of old library books from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007 but only contributed $179,890 to the district.

The non-profit group raises hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the library district.

Daniel Walters, executive director of the library district, said Monday he was pleased with Denton's decision and doesn't want to pursue anymore litigation.

"I hope that the bloodletting of these unnecessary expenses of public funds can stop now," Walters said. The litigation cost the library district about $45,000.

Walters said he didn't think that the Friends were doing anything inappropriate with the money. But he wondered why the group was resistant to having an audit performed.

"I'm at a loss as to why the stewards of the public funds don't have accounting that demonstrates how the funds are being used," he said.

Walters said that although the group agreed to the audit earlier, it had not completed one by the April 30 deadline.

Barry Levinson, the attorney representing Friends of Southern Nevada Libraries, said the non-profit group had already agreed to complete the audit and expects it to be done by mid-June. The group also has agreed not to distribute any money made from sales of library materials.

Levinson was unsure whether the case is finished. He said the non-profit group had been hurt, and it might take time to get it up and running again. He also said settling with the library district comes down to allowing the Friends to operate as they were, without a contract.

Previously, a library board member said a new contract and audit of Friends of Southern Nevada Libraries was necessary. The Friends bristled at the suggestion.

"This whole case is retarded," Levinson said. "This was already agreed to. So they essentially got nothing accomplished."

Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.