Source: Sherman Publications

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Library cuts to impact hours

by Susan Bromley

July 13, 2011

Brandon Twp.- Every summer, the library is closed on Sundays and when school begins in September, the library is once again open seven days a week. Not anymore.

In fact, come January, the library will be open to patrons only five days a week.

Faced with cutting $52,000 from the budget, Library Director Paula Gauthier said the reduction in days of service is necessary because to achieve a balanced budget, staffing will be reduced.

"I don't feel good about it at all," Gauthier said. "I am dedicated to this community, I want the library to offer services as often as we can, but we can't offer quality services if there are only three or four staff in the building and I always want patrons to have a quality service experience. We have to reduce hours so they have a quality experience when they are in the building or online."

The reduction in days the library will be open comes at a time when library usage is up. Over the past six years, Gauthier said circulation of printed materials alone has increased 23 percent. Libraries and their resources are being used more than ever in the tough economy as people borrow books and dvds instead of purchasing them, and use computers at libraries to look for jobs, write resumes, and apply for unemployment online; however, money to operate the library has been reduced because of the property value crisis.

The Brandon Township Library has a 2 mill property tax in perpetuity, but with the Headlee Amendment that rolled back to 1.7739. It has been the same for the past four years.

"We will apply the same mill for next year; however, property values have declined by 6 percent in the township," said Gauthier. "The value on which we can assess is down, so we have a decline in revenue of just over $48,000."

The library board will vote on approval of a budget of $858,016 at their next meeting, planned for 7 p.m., Aug. 22, at the library, 304 South St.

Last year, Gauthier noted, there was a much larger cut in revenue and to make up for the shortfall, the library cut staff and employee insurance benefits, as well as decreased the budget for collections of books and online databases. The library board also approved 15 unpaid furlough days.

"We can't cut collections anymore, because our services are important," Gauthier said. "The public comes to us for programs, collections and other services. To maintain a quality library with quality services, we have to stay where we're at."

Although the library will not be open on Sundays effective immediately or on Fridays beginning in January, on the days the library is open, hours will be extended, opening at 9 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and remaining open until 9 p.m.

Gauthier said Fridays and Sundays were chosen to close because the data shows those days as the slowest traffic days for the library.