Area Library System Facing Cuts of $ 350,000 in Books, Services

Posted: November 18, 2008 in Uncategorized

From Watertown Daily Times.com (New York):

By KELLY L. REYNOLDS
TIMES STAFF WRITER
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2008

North country libraries are on the chopping block under the governor’s proposed budget cuts, which could mean fewer books on the shelves and a loss of personnel and services.

Gov. David A. Paterson announced last week that midyear cuts to the state’s budget are needed — including a 20 percent cut to state library systems. State lawmakers begin a special session in Albany today to deal with the budget crisis.

“This is totally inequitable and disproportionate to everything else that’s being cut in the budget,” said Stephen B. Bolton, director of the North Country Library System. “We’ve already taken a cut and we’ve contributed to any budget problems the state might have. We don’t share in gains during the good times and we shouldn’t have to share in the pain during the bad times.”

If legislators back the governor’s proposal, it could mean about $350,000 in cuts to NCLS. The system serves more than 60 libraries in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties. Mr. Bolton said funding to NCLS was already cut 2 percent earlier this year.

“It’s already meant 14 jobs lost in this area and there could be more,” he said.

“It’s sad because when the economy is bad more people use libraries,” Mr. Bolton said. “The number of visits and circulation is up, and if at the same time people aren’t there to help them, we’re going to have to charge fees and it’s going to harm our libraries.”

Under governor’s proposed cuts, Mr. Bolton said the new Incentive Grant made available to libraries though NCLS would be eliminated. He said there would be increased circulation fees, less travel and deliveries between libraries, no additional books or materials purchased and NCLS would no longer contribute money toward shared Internet databases like Heritage Quest and Learning Express.

That means patrons could see fewer books, longer wait times for deliveries of inter-library loaned materials and fewer librarians.

Linda M. McCullough, director of the Carthage Free Library, said even though everyone was expecting the cuts, “it’s scary.”

“We’re very concerned about it,” she said. “We’re going to try to do the best we can with what we have, but these cuts are serious.”

Mr. Bolton said NCLS has set up a link on its Web site, www.NCLSweb.org, so anyone interested can contact local elected officials to express an opinion about the cuts.

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