During a regular meeting on Mon., Nov. 8, the Board of Trustees of The Public Library for Union County voted unanimously to cut the library’s hours of service for the 2011 calendar year. Effective Jan. 1, the library, located at 255 Reitz Blvd. in Lewisburg, will no longer be open on Sundays and will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. According to library administrators, the reduction of seven and a half hours per week was made necessary by continued cuts in state funding.
“Our focus is to continue to provide our users with the support they need to access our services, programs, and collections during the hours that we are open while maintaining the safety of the staff,” Roberta Greene, the library’s director, said. “Also, we must stay within our means.”
The reduction in hours of operation is the latest action the library’s administration has taken to stay within budget. One year ago, in response to a 20.1 per cent reduction in state funding for libraries in 2010, the library’s administration voted to close the facility several extra days around major holidays. Library employees are not paid for those days off.
Staffing also has been reduced in 2010 through employee attrition. Two vacant circulation positions have caused difficulty in scheduling enough people to serve library users adequately and safely during the library’s current hours of operation, Greene explained.
State funding for Pennsylvania libraries will be reduced another 10.3 per cent for 2011. Despite stretching the budget and increasing local fundraising endeavors, Greene said the library’s trustees had to make the difficult decision to cut service hours. State funding is not expected to increase in the foreseeable future.
“Local donors continue to play a vital role in the ability of The Public Library for Union County to serve residents,” Greene said. “And volunteers are more critical to the library’s success now, too, as they play an important role as partners in the library’s mission to connect people to the world of ideas and information.”
Public libraries in Pennsylvania receive funding from three main sources: local government, private fundraising, and state government.
Union County libraries have lost $119,349 — $52,500 in state subsidies, $42,449 in County Coordination Aid, and $24,000 for Access Pennsylvania.
County Coordination Aid is paid to libraries that receive a direct county appropriation or library tax revenue. Priorities for the use of these funds are established by an annual county-level plan. The Public Library for Union County is the headquarters for the federated Union County Library System, which also consists of the Herr Memorial Library in Mifflinburg and the West End Library in Laurelton.
Access Pennsylvania is a statewide catalog of materials that can be requested through interlibrary loan.
Greene expressed gratitude that Union County’s support for libraries has remained consistent.
“We are very fortunate to have County Commissioners and residents who recognize the value of public libraries,” she said.
Through the end of 2010, The Public Library for Union County’s regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The library will be closed on Thurs., Nov. 11, for a county-wide staff training day.
The library will have the following holiday schedule: close at 5 p.m. on Wed., Nov. 24; close all day Thurs., Nov. 25, through Sun., Nov. 28; close at 5 p.m. on Thurs., Dec. 23; close all day Fri., Dec. 24, through Sun., Dec. 26; close at 5 p.m. from Mon., Dec. 27, through Thurs., Dec. 30; and close all day from Fri., Dec. 31, through Sun., Jan. 2.
For more information, call 523-1172 or visit the library’s website www.publibuc.org