More Services to be Reduced; Jobs Eliminated
The Board of Library Trustees met in an emergency session Sept. 6 to meet a City Council Finance Committee mandated reduction in the operating budget of $476,266. The committee is requiring the budget cuts to pay for the library’s share of additional city pension costs.
Reluctantly and with strenuous opposition, the board submitted the following additional cuts:
- Close all the libraries on Sundays. (Currently, the Main Library and four regional branches are open on Sundays.) This is in addition to closing libraries one day per week, per the committee’s request of Aug. 25.
- Close the Maxville Branch Library.
- Reduce the operating hours at the three remaining neighborhood branches from 40 hours per week to 32 hours per week.
If all requested cuts are implemented, the library budget for Fiscal Year 2012 will have been reduced by $3.5 million from the current budget. These cuts would have significant ramifications, including the following:
- The library system will lose 260 hours each week: 23% of total operating hours
- More than 250,000 lost opportunities to use public computers
- More than 5,000 community meetings will have to be held somewhere else, potentially at a cost to those organizations, as library space will no longer be available on a weekday.
- Services to customers with special needs will be cut by 20%.
- 39 full time jobs and approximately 24 part time jobs will be eliminated.
More than 1 million visits were made to the library on Sundays and Mondays last year; customers checked out approximately 1.7 million items on these two days alone. The opportunity for literacy instruction, programs for children, and the availability of services for job seekers would be greatly reduced.
This action is not yet final—the full council will vote on the budget Sept. 27. You have time to contact your city council representative and let him or her know that you do not want to lose library service! Find your council member by visiting the My Neighborhood search on the City of Jacksonville website and entering your address.