At a special meeting this week, the Board of Trustees authorized a plan to address the shortfall which calls for reduction in both staffing and hours of operation.
Portsmouth Public Library Director Beverly Cain said, “Although the economy and state budget cuts have resulted in a 31 percent loss in funding for the Portsmouth Public Library and cuts are being made that will have an impact on our library and our community, we appreciate the enthusiastic support and sincere efforts made by members of our community which helped prevent the budget cuts from being even deeper. We will strive to continue to provide the high levels of service our community deserves and has come to expect.”
Cain added that the board has discussed placing an operating levy on the ballot in 2010 that would partially restore funding, but no decision has been made.
Highlights of the plan approved by the board include:
• Effective Aug. 9, a 5 percent pay cut for nine senior management and administrative staff.
• Eliminate 12 part-time and five full-time positions; six positions have already been eliminated through attrition.
• Effective Aug. 10, reducing open hours at all locations: hours at the main library reduced from 66.5 to 53; Northwest, reduced from 27 to 20; Lucasville, New Boston, South Webster and Wheelersburg libraries from 57 to 24, and the Bookmobile will make stops throughout the county Monday through Thursday.
• The materials budget reduced by 40 percent and eliminate outside programming.
The cuts being made at the Portsmouth Public Library are in line with cuts being made in libraries across the state. The Garnet A. Wilson Public Library of Pike County and the Briggs-Lawrence County Public Library have reduced staffing, enacted pay cuts and reduced hours of operation. Some libraries, such as the Chillicothe-Ross County Public Library, Meigs County Public Library and the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County have either closed or are considering closing branch libraries.
According to the Ohio Library Council, budget cuts, combined with a drop in the Public Library Fund in the first six months of this year as a result of declining state tax revenues, resulted in library funding dropping as much as 25 to 30 percent in 2009, as compared to calendar year 2008.
The Public Library Fund supplies the main support for the state’s public libraries. It will be cut by $84.3 million for FY2010-11. The cut is significantly less than the $227.3 million cut proposed by Gov. Ted Strickland on June 19, which could have amounted to a nearly 50 percent cut in aid, OLC said.
DEBORAH DANIELS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 234.