It wasn’t an idle threat.
An official of the Fulton Public Library came to last week’s public hearing of the Fulton Common Council to warn that without an increase in its budget, the library would have to cut hours and lay off a worker.
Aldermen approved the budget without changes, leaving its contribution to the library at the same level as in the last budget. They did not mention the library’s request nor respond to the official, beyond thanking her for her comment.
Thursday, the library’s board of trustees voted to cut its hours and lay off one member of the staff.
Hours at the main branch will be cut from 54 per week to 42. The Vayner branch library will be cut from 15 hours per week to 12.
“We have received flat city funding for the last three years,” Marian Stanton, president of the board of trustees said in a statement, “but this year we can’t make those dollars go any further. These cut-backs, however much we resist making them, are now unavoidable. Mayor Woodward and the council members said they were unable to provide us with an additional $20,000 in funding.”
The main branch will no longer be open on Saturdays. It will be open from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. The Vayner branch will be open from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm Tuesdays through Fridays.
As we’ve documented previously, the library is riding a wave of growth. Stanton said the library’s public computers are in use as much as 90% of the time. The number of registered borrowers has quadrupled since 2002, to more than 10,000, circulation is up 8% per year over the same period and books borrowed from other member libraries using the free inter-library loan system havedoubled since 2003.
The library this summer broke ground for the construction of an elevator to allow easy access to all four floors of the historic building.
Stanton noted that it was not possible to ask employees to take pay cuts because they make between $8 and $11 per hour. She said the library will look for grants that could help reverse the cutbacks.