Monday, September 20, 2010

Library Budget Cut by City of Natchez

“Cutting Libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague.” Well, the budget approved by our City leaders did just that. In 2005, the City placed the Library on a dedicated millage of 2.575 mills. When property reassessments in 2009 would have resulted in the Library – finally – after 11 years – receiving an increase in funding, the City leaders decided they Library should not have any increase in funding. Apparently, they believe the Library can operate in 2011 (and in 2010, as well – but I will address that later) with the same amount of funding as it did in 1998. THIRTEEN YEARS AGO! In 1998, we did not have any computers and the minimum wage was $5.15!

Unfortunately, we cannot operate the Library on the same level of funding as we did in 1998. This knowledge, and the realization that our City leaders think so little of the importance of your public library, have forced us to make some significant changes in the services we offer.

To begin with, we have had to let one library employee go. Being short staffed to begin with, this means you may have to wait in line a little longer to be assisted. Overdue fines for books (which have not been raised in about 15 years) will increase from 10¢ to 15¢ a day. Charges for printing and copying with increase from 15¢ to 25¢ per page. The charge for color printing will remain the same.

The biggest effect is a reduction in hours. Rather than eliminate the four hours we are open on Saturday, we chose to close one hour earlier on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We will still be open on Thursday until 6. On Saturday, we will open an hour later, at 10:00 am. Therefore, beginning October 1, our hours are 9-5 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 9-6 Thursday and 10-1 Saturday.

So, we are cancelling about half of the magazine subscriptions (that were just renewed this summer!). Among the titles cancelled are: American History, Antiques & Collecting, Create & Decorate, Education Digest, Essence, Familyfun, Fitness, Forbes, Jet, Kiplinger, Martha Stewart Living, Natural History, New Yorker, O: Oprah, Oxford American, People, Popular Mechanics, Prevention, Psychology Today, Real Simple, Road & Track, Saturday Evening Post, Southern Lady, Victoria, Woman's Day, Workbench/My Home My Style. Additionally we will NOT renew in 2011 two very important and heavily used online databases, World Book and Ancestry Library Edition. World Book provided online access to a vast array of research titles for school children of all ages. Ancestry Library Edition is a genealogy database for use by researchers using the Library’s computers.

We have cancelled three newspapers, each very heavily read: USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times. Fortunately, we had written a grant to provide access to these newspapers online, but the grant is for one year only, so if funding is not restored, these will disappear completely next year.

Being fiscally responsible has apparently resulted in our budget cut. Not one time has the Library overspent its budget and had to go to the City to ask for more money. How many other City departments make that claim? This is truly a sad day for us all. Our eight-year old computers are used so heavily that I wonder what we will do when they finally give out. Replacement of dead computers is simply not an option with this budget. Our City leaders are not Library users and obviously do not feel adequately funding the Library is important. That message is up to us to convey to them. Here's a link to their information.

No comments:

Post a Comment