Budget woes forcing libraries to make cuts
Written by Don Chaddock
While usage of the Auburn Library may be on the rise, the threat of a budget shortfall is forcing the local institution to make cuts.
The state budget is more than two months overdue and that’s causing a trickle-down effect at the county and city levels, but one area could be even more hard-hit – the library.
According to Michael Otten, with Friends of the Auburn Library, the 35-year-old library used to be open every day of the week for 10 hours each day. Through various cost-saving steps, the library is now open only 6 days per week and the hours of operation are about to get leaner.
“It comes at a bad time, with usage up 15 percent,” Otten said. “They are working through it with less and still trying to provide the services the community needs.”
Mark Parker, the director of library services, said the problems with the state budget, and the resulting uncertainty with the county’s budget, means the library will have to make do with fewer resources.
“We are being affected by the state budget,” Parker said. “There is a program called the Public Library Foundation and we lost roughly $35,000 with the governor’s 10 percent cut. We’ve been affected by the county budget also. We’ve had to take reductions along with other departments.”
Parker said the county is not filling vacancies at the moment, the county has “un-funded” four positions and the libraries have lost 20 to 25 percent of their materials budget. He also indicated they are trying to reduce the hours the three busiest libraries are open to help save money.
“We are reducing nine hours total per week, spread among the three largest branches (so) they can operate with fewer staff,” he said.
On Mondays, the libraries in Rocklin and Auburn will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. while Granite Bay will be closed.
Tuesday through Thursdays, the three libraries will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
On Fridays, the libraries will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays they will close at 5 p.m. All libraries are closed on Sunday.
“We looked at our circulation statistics and saw our busiest hours were 11 a.m. to noon and least busy were 7 to 8 p.m.,” Parker said. “We adjusted the schedules with the idea to reduce our least busy hours. The staff has been notified.”
The entire Placer County Library system has 48 paid staff members.
The cuts do not sit well with Otten, who has watched the library dwindle to its current state over the years.
“When times get tough, libraries are the first to take the hits,” Otten said. “I guess we’d rather be known as a county who has big jails and administration buildings.”
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