Library Says Further Cuts Will Hit Hard

Employees And Materials Would Feel Budget Ax Next

December 22, 1991|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

The well has run dry.

After months of cost-cutting at the CarrollCounty Public Library -- from renegotiating contracts to turning offevery other light at headquarters -- board members say there is nothing more to cut to meet the latest budget crisis without affecting service.

At the last round of local cuts, $135,084 -- or 3.6 percent of the total budget -- was taken to meet the shortfall in state money.

"We said that's all we have, Steve (Powell, county budget director),"said Martha M. Makosky, library director. "I think they took the cuts up to the point of having to cut staff."

Some options that remain are to erode service by cutting budgets for materials, or lower thequantity of service through furloughs and early library closings, she said.

A third option would be to recoup the library's expenses for services such as genealogy searches or mailing lists. Library patrons already pay 30 cents per book reserve to cover the mailing cost for notices.

"I'll have a lot more specific recommendations later in the fiscal year," Makosky said. "But I can't come up with any more options other than going out of business."

Board members are unsure how large the next cut will be because legislators have not decidedwhether the money should come from the state budget or the local budget. However, the library -- which receives state and county money --will be affected either way, Makosky said.

"No matter which way it comes, we will get cut," she said. "And if it's a state cut, we won't get a reprieve from the county because they don't have any money, either."

Makosky encouraged board members to accept the library's fair share of cuts, but no more. She also said she felt the commissioners would not use their newly attained power to specify cuts in the library budget.

"I think the commissioners will continue to support your making the decisions," she said. "We have been as cooperative as we can be, but we should insist on our fair share of the cuts."

After discussing the current operating expenses, board members decided to submit the $3.9 million fiscal 1992 budget as the proposed one for 1993.

A $320,218 addendum -- based on the operating expenses of the other four full-service libraries -- has been added to cover the new Mount Airy library, projected to open in October.

"This shows our emphasis on equity of service between the branches," said NancyZeleski, board president. "We should keep that as the foremost importance."

On the brighter side of budget news, library technical support administrator Scott Rinehart saved CCPL about $1,000 by coordinating a regional library supplies bid through the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments.

Rather than having each library order supplies on its own, Rinehart gathered information from 150 public, 300 school and nine community college libraries statewide to submit a bid together.

The plan was based on a similar program in Iowa.

"Mostlibraries pay list price plus shipping," he said. "But by doing this, libraries in Iowa are getting a 25 percent discount and shipping included in their price."

In other news, library employees will be better equipped to handle health-related questions from patrons starting this spring because of a two-day training session sponsored by thestate Department of Education.

The Health Information Project also helps libraries get better and more current information sources.

"We know that some questions are only appropriately answered by health-care providers," said Gail Griffith, CCPL's associate director. "We are careful to distinguish between providing health information andpracticing medicine without a license."

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