Libraries to cut hours and materialsWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucas County library patrons will face reduced hours at all locations except for the Sanger Branch, after the state budget left a
$1.4 million hole in the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) system’s annual budget.
Customers will also notice a significant drop in the amount of materials available to check out, from books to periodicals to videos and books on tapes.
“People will notice that they are unlikely to get the hottest, newest book like they used to,” said Jamie Black, vice chairman of the TLCPL board.
The materials budget will take blows, such as $500,000 in adult books and $150,000 in juvenile books, around $110,000 on videos and $65,000 in periodicals, along with $2,500 in juvenile periodicals, among many others, Black said.
With a 20 percent decrease from the Public Library Fund biennially, coupled with the 10 to 15 percent property tax decrease that Director Clyde Scoles said the library faces, the extra $1.4 million leaves the library system fighting a “two-front war,” he said.
He said he predicts another round of cuts in the near future.
“Obviously we are talking about dismantlement,” Scoles said. “But we will get through it.”
Part-time employees called “pages,” who shelve books and assist managers, will lose their jobs as a result. About 30 of them are teenagers, and the rest of the 58 pages are adults who are paid minimum wage, said Rhonda Sewell, media relations coordinator. The position cuts will not be immediate.
To avoid further layoffs Black said the administration is offering employees with more than 30 years of experience retirement.
A little more than 30 employees qualify for retirement and will receive up to 975 hours worth of sick-leave pay after they leave, Black said.
“We don’t want to tell people that they have to retire,” Scoles said. “They’re just being offered the incentive to consider it.”
If no one retires, the administration will have to consider further lay-offs as a possibility, he added.
Non-union employees, such as administration members like Scoles, are forfeiting the annual 4 to 5 percent salary increase and taking a pay freeze. They will also have to pay about $64 a month for health care, opposed to the previous rate of $20, Scoles added.
Harry Johnston Jr., the library unit director for Communication Workers of America, said his union workers are “worried but resilient.” Being cautious about future possible layoffs, the 180 circulation clerks and maintenance personnel are reducing supplies and re-using what they have, and plan to re-use paper for scraps rather than buying scrap paper.
The board members also thanked patrons and community members for supporting the system the past few weeks. Black said so many people sent e-mails to the governor’s office that his e-mail system shut down.
“The public response to the governor’s proposal to reduce public library funding by 50 percent was so outstanding and overwhelming that in just a couple days, legislators had 27,000 communications,” Deputy Director Margaret Danziger said.
The board of trustees approved all the cuts at the TLCPL board meeting on July 23, after the state budget cut $84 million from the Ohio Public Library Fund, which was lessened from Gov. Ted Strickland’s originally proposed $227 million cut.
“If the governor’s proposal would have gone through, we wouldn’t have Sundays open anywhere,” Scoles said. “But, we think we’ll have a second wave of decline.”
The Sanger Branch on West Central Avenue will remain open Sundays because of its central location, parking availability, collection size and individual study rooms, Scoles said.