Library services to be cut
by Susie Vasquez
Sue Keller is hoping for the small financial miracle that will save her job. A library page at the Douglas County library, she is one of four that will be laid off due to budget shortfalls.
A retiree from California, Keller worked part-time filing books and getting the library ready for opening. The loss of employees will be hard on those remaining who will have to take up the slack, she said.
“We tried to keep services up for patrons. After all we are a community service,” Keller said. “I’m just waiting to see and hoping for a miracle.”
Library Director Linda Deacy said the budget has not been adopted by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, but reductions in service have already been built into next year’s budget and if anything, things could get worse.
The $1.4 million budget has decreased by $15,000 for the upcoming year, but there is no accomodation for the increase in the costs, Deacy said.
“There are expenses over which we have no control. One year, our utility costs increased 24 percent and there was no way to accomodate that increase,” she said. “Contractual demands, like gas, the cost of paper and other materials, get more expensive every year. The only way for us to cut back is to cut out employees.”
Library staff are working to prioritize programs and services and figure out which can still be delivered with the staff remaining, but she doesn’t think any services will be restored, Deacy said.
Douglas County libraries are open six days a week and more than 700 residents use the library every day.
Deacy is encouraging them to talk to commissioners and others about the need for services.
“A large population uses us on a regular basis. It’s the busiest of all county services,” she said. “People get great value for the budget we have and I hate to lose any ground. It’s so hard to make up.”
Sales tax revenues have declined steadily over the past year, a trend that is showing no signs of letting up. Douglas County saw a decrease in the amount of sales taxes generated after the Wal-Mart opened in north Carson City. Businesses that characteristically generate sales taxes for libraries, including restaurant and car sales, are not generating any growth, Deacy said.
Assistant County Manager Michael Brown said those revenues have declined 5.9 percent when compared to last year.
“We’re seeing a situation that could take several years to turn around,” Deacy said.
The following reductions will be initiated on July 1.
• Layoff of four employees
• Closure of Minden library on Sunday and Monday
• Closure of Lake Tahoe Branch library Sunday, Monday and Tuesday
• No filmed program for cable access television
• Reduction in children’s programming
• Reduction in adult and family programming
• Reduced outreach to schools and preschools
• Minden meeting room closed to users Sunday and Monday
• Lake Tahoe branch meeting room closed to users Sunday, Monday and Tuesday
• Limited supplies that may affect printing and copying by patrons
Susie Vasquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 211.