By implementing system-wide layoffs, furloughs and salary reductions, slashing the materials budget by nearly 20%, and closing all branches of the Harford County Public Library system on Sundays, the Fallston Branch has been saved and will remain open.
The decision and recommendations of the Library Board of Trustees were announced during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
“The Board of Trustees has removed the closure of a branch, specifically Fallston, from the budget reduction proposal,” the press release states.
A public hearing on the budget proposal will proceed as planned on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. at Fallston High School.
Here is the full press release:
Library Budget Reductions
The Harford County Public Library held a press conference at 3pm today at the Bel Air Branch to announce the Library Board of Trustees’ recommendations for the FY10 budget reductions and the impact these reductions will have on services throughout the county.
“These decisions were not easy,” stated Library Director, Audra Caplan. “There simply is no way for the Library to absorb budget cuts of this magnitude without significantly impacting our services.”
The proposed cuts announced today will be voted on Thursday evening at the Library Board of Trustees’ meeting. They include:
– 10% reduction in staffing through lay-offs, vacancies and salary reductions
– five furlough days for all staff
– closing of the branches on Sunday plus an additional four hours during the week
– reduction in programming for children, teens, adults and seniors
– almost a 20% cut in the materials budget which will reduce the supply of new fiction and non fiction books, talking books, dvds, periodicals, school support materials, children’s picture and story books, teen materials, reference materials for children and adults and online databases
– the closing of the Small Business Center
– reduction in the equipment, maintenance and cleaning budgets
The Board of Trustees has removed the closure of a branch, specifically Fallston, from the budget reduction proposal.
“We want to thank the community for their support during this difficult time,” stated Trustee Chairperson, William Nicodemus.
The Library must make these budget cuts due to a $1.6 million dollar reduction to the FY10 operating budget. This comes at a time when services are at an even higher demand. Customers are utilizing the library system in search of jobs and to write and submit resumes online. Over 1.6 million people have walked through the doors of the Harford County Library System this past fiscal year, a 6.3% increase over last year. The library has circulated over 4.4 million items, an 8.6% increase over last year and the library website has received 5.5 million visits, an 86% increase over last year.
“I continue to be proud of our library, its employees, the Board of Trustees, active Friends groups and our numerous volunteers. Together we have built a strong library system providing the community with an invaluable resource,” stated Audra Caplan.
The public hearing will be held at the Fallston High School auditorium on Thursday, June 25th starting at 6pm. Voting of the budget will follow the hearing. Fallston High School is located at 2301 Carrs Mill Road, Fallston. Doors will open at 5:00. Those who want to speak are asked to sign up.
Seems to be a reasonable compromise. Congratulations to those who could work it out. We should also work out ways to make sure this is a temporary compromise. Maybe some items are better off reduced, but in the long run we should aim to restore hours of service. Library is one of our most cost-effective services with widespread and long term direct and indirect benefits to the community. Looking back I would not hesitate to say libraries contributed as much or probably far more to my learning than school itself, and I can confidently say the same for the current generation, with due appreciation to our school system. Apart from academic learning and exposure to ideas, libraries foster a civic sense, and a safe space for inner reflection. Just to mention a few – tangible and intangible benefits are numerous. Cut libraries and we will surely end up paying elsewhere without necessarily realizing the connection. As a friend in high school once shared in an awestruck whisper, as we wound through the 300s to the 600s in the nonfiction stacks of Bel Air library, “the library shows that everything is connected.”
Everything comes at a price. I hope this proves to be worth it. How many additional staff have to be laid off to save one branch of the library? We are blessed with wonderful librarians and staff in Harford County and I am sad to hear that any of them have to be let go. Library is more than books and buildings, the staff are the heart and soul. I hope we can all move forward, rebuild our economy and restore staff to our libraries soon.
Yes, you are right. I hope that with appropriate planning we can restore staff and services to Harford County Library sooner rather than later.