State Budget To Impact Library Again
Still reeling from this year’s budget cuts, officials at the Fulton County Library have received news that the state budget recently signed by Gov. Ed Rendell will result in an additional funding loss of 9 percent in 2011.
“A lot of libraries out there aren’t going to make it,” concluded Fulton County Library’s Executive Director Jamie Brambley following the budget announcement. Even though the tentative figure of 9 percent only equates to a loss of $5,210 in state subsidies, the ongoing decreases are beginning to have a snowball effect on the local library that maintains operations in both McConnellsburg and Hustontown.
According to Brambley, both county and state funding have continued to drop in recent years, causing library officials to take a hard look at cost-cutting measures, including staffing, operation hours and even books and services. In 2008, statistics show the Fulton County Library received $73,000 in state funding, which decreased to $72,000 in 2009 and $57,890 this year. In addition to the state funding loss, the county library also faced a $7,500 cut in 2010 funding at the hands of the Fulton County commissioners, who made budget reductions to all agencies falling outside of the county’s umbrella.
The annual subsidy from the commonwealth in 2011 has been tentatively calculated at $52,680.
As if the initial bad news wasn’t bad enough, Brambley also told the “News” the library’s waiver of maintenance of local government has not been accepted by the state. The document includes a copy of the county’s budget and an explanation by the library of lost revenue. In the event the waiver is denied a second time, the library becomes at risk of losing additional state aid.
Even though the library continues to undergo losses in revenue, Brambley stated area business and residents have rallied around the library with monetary donations toward books, operation expenses and a whopping $2,000 for the summer reading program.
Bracing themselves for the newest round of reductions, Brambley is encouraging the community to become even more involved in the everyday operations of the library. A suggestion jar is now located in the lobby of the library where patrons and staff can submit their own cost-cutting ideas and in turn become a part of the solution. Every two weeks the suggestions will be reviewed, and the individual with the best idea for savings will receive a free movie rental.
“We’re just trying to think outside of the box,” said Brambley, who noted the worst-case scenario would be cutting additional days from the library calendar of operations instead of reducing daily hours here and there. The library is currently maintained by three fulltime staffers, five part-time employees and volunteers who would feel the effect of reduced hours.
“We’re spread so thin right now,” Brambley stated. “We try not to let things affect the patrons, but after a while things catch up.”
All of the changes at the library haven’t had an effect, however, on the number of patrons visiting the library. In fact, monthly statistics recorded by the library show for the month of a June a total of 2,835 patrons used the county’s library system in comparison to 2,526 in June of 2009.
In addition, certain categories of services and books, such as the young adult section, have seen increases at the circulation count. Checkouts rose for young adults from 181 checkouts in June 2009 to 422 items this year. Furthermore, overall checkouts have risen from 4,662 to 6,163.
Brambley not only attributes the changes to economic hardships and people cutting back on their expenditures, such as Internet service and books, but also as a direct result of the new facility and services now offered.
“Since the renovations we have more to offer,” said Brambley. “It’s a great way to save money, and we have cheap entertainment for adults, teens and children, whether it be free movie night, the summer reading program or teen nights.”