July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Area libraries brace for cuts

The Medina County District Library’s bookmobile was greeted by a group of residents carrying pinwheels, greeting cards and a banner reading “We’ll miss you bookmobile” when it stopped at Debbie and Beverly drives in Medina Township last week.

Anne Plazek, bookmobile services operator, said the mobile library has been visiting the area since 1992.

“It’s a neighborhood where my staff has seen children there grow up from infancy,” she said.

But it won’t stop there again after next week, when the bookmobile’s hours and stops are reduced.

Last month the state cut funding for Ohio libraries, and libraries throughout Medina County are responding by making reductions in employment, hours and other services.

Beginning Sept. 1, Wadsworth Public Library will be open 14 fewer hours a week. The Buckeye, Highland and Seville branches of the Medina County District Library will be open 10 fewer hours each.

“It was one of those things that we all knew, the bad news was coming,” Carole Kowell, director of the district library, said of the state’s budget cuts.

Kowell said libraries throughout the state are dealing with a projected
20 percent drop in revenue from the Public Library Fund this year due to declines in tax revenues. In addition, last month the state cut Ohio’s Public Library Fund by $84.3 million over the next two years — amounting to an additional 11 percent cut in funding.

Kowell said four or five library employees received notice last week they would be laid off. In addition, employees in management, circulation support services and reference are facing reductions in hours — from 40 hours a week to 37.5 hours.

In addition, the bookmobile now only will operate three days a week, down from five, and it will make only 19 stops, down from 29 this summer.

“This is happening at a time when we’re busier than ever, which is the irony of the situation,” Kowell said. The library district reported more than 1 million patrons visited the branches in 2008, the most visits ever in a year. And with 109,000 visitors in June of this year, it was the busiest month on record.

Kowell said the district tried to make as many minor cuts as possible, such as reducing the number of free pages computer users can print and no longer providing free plastic bags for customers to use. But, she said, layoffs were inevitable.

Layoffs are likely inevitable in Wadsworth, too, said community relations coordinator Janet Griffing.

The library’s board of trustees approved a voluntary retirement incentive program and is seeking employees to participate in voluntary hour reductions. Griffing said the library could lay off employees based on how many retire or take the reductions.

“There will likely be layoffs. We just won’t know about them until later,” she said.

In addition to cutting weekday and Saturday hours, the library has reduced the number of Sundays it will be open throughout the year.

Once open on Sundays between Memorial and Labor days, it now will be open the first Sunday in October through the last Sunday in April.
All the bookmobile services, except those to daycare centers, preschools, kindergartens and first grades, have been cut.

The library also will not order any new books or other materials for the remainder of the year. Griffing said that means about 6,000 items that normally would be purchased will not be bought this year.

The library also will cut programming that requires a speaker’s fee, including the summer concert series that ran for 21 years.

Griffing said 2010 could be worse if revenues from state taxes continue to fall.

New library hours, effective Sept. 1:

10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, noon-5 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday starting Oct. 1.

Buckeye, Highland, Seville
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and

10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Brunswick, Medina
9 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday starting Oct. 4.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.