Public library making cuts to save tax dollars


March 30, 2010 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated March 30, 2010 at 10:31 p.m.

Jesica McCue and her two children use the Victoria Public Library at least weekly.

She's disappointed to learn about a second round of cuts the library will be making because of shortfalls in the city budget, she said.

"Essentially, it's free and it provides people a place to better themselves to get jobs," she said. "Of all the services in the Victoria area, I would feel like this would be the last one that should be cut."

But McCue, who also serves on the library board, said she understands the difficult economy and that the city must stay within its budget.

Users of the library will find that facility open fewer hours beginning April 21 and operated by a smaller staff as the city deals with budget cuts.

Library Director Dayna Williams-Capone said she and her staff of 24 will make every effort to keep the changes from being painful for the customers.

"I'm hoping they will still feel like they are receiving excellent service and something of value," she said. "But there are still going to be just a few little frustrations in terms of our service hours."

The library began making $75,000 in cuts in its $1.9 million in November to help deal with a fall in the sales tax income for the city. The changes included such things as a hiring freeze, putting off renovations and updates, and cutting staff training.

Future cuts include reducing operating hours on Wednesdays, when the library is normally open from 9 am. to 9 p.m. Beginning April 21, the hours will be 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

All other hours will remain unchanged.

The decision was made based on the gate count and number of people using the computers each hour the library is open.

"On Mondays, you'll usually have like between 300 and 350 people coming in in the evening hours," Williams-Capone said. "When you get down to Wednesdays and Tuesdays, you're looking at more like 200 to 250."

Two library positions have already become vacant since November and she is not allowed to fill them. A third employee will leave in April and won't be replaced.

"That's really where it's hitting us," Williams-Capone said. "That person covers a lot of floor time in the evenings."

The library will even change the type of library cards being used to save money.

The library currently uses cards with chips that provide such information as user names, whether they have money on their cards for printing and which allow access to Internet computers.

"We're changing to just a regular card that doesn't have that chip in it," Williams-Capone said. "Now you'll have to type in your bar code number to use it."

The one thing Williams-Capone said she doesn't have plans to cut is the summer reading program.

"Our children's programs are a priority here," she said. "Our community seems very focused on children. Lots of families bring their kids in here."



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