Budget Woes Threaten Sunday Library Services

May 07, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

The County Council is trying to find a way to save year-round Sundaylibrary services.

However, library officials frowned on one of the plans mentioned by the council at yesterday's hearing on the library system's $9.8 million 1992 budget.

Several members suggested cutting morning hours in all 15 librarybranches and library headquarters in order to save enough money to keep four branches open Sundays all year long. The proposed budget pays for Sunday service only from mid-September to mid-June at those branches.

Closing libraries in the morning would "seriously diminish" services, said Edward Hall, library director. He said he would rather eliminate Sunday services for three months.

"We'll have to think about this really closely," said Council Chairwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River. "You have to think of every senior citizen -- they don't go out in the evening."

The library would need an extra $48,000 to stay open Sundays all year.

The reduction in Sunday hoursis but one cost-cutting measure in the austere spending plan, which also eliminates Friday night library service and closes the tiny Kuethe library in Glen Burnie.

"This was the best compromise we could make," said Nelson Brickham, vice president of the board of library trustees. "This is the best we could do given the circumstances we were faced with this year."

In County Executive Robert R. Neall's proposed $616 million budget, the county's portion of the library budgetdrops from $8.2 million to $7.9 million.

The administration had to pinch pennies just to fund Sunday service at the Annapolis, Crofton, North County and Severna Park branches for nine months.

Infostop, a computer research tool costing $62,000 a year, was eliminated. Budgets for part-time headquarters and branch employees were reduced by$114,000. Closing branches on Friday evenings -- when circulation islowest -- saves $60,000, and shutting down the Kuethe branch saves about $21,000.

"When you look at the list of things you've had to cut, it's disheartening," said Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis.

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