Hubbard library forced to cut back

Library hours, services and programs are changing because of funding cuts.

HUBBARD — Sherry Ault, Hubbard Public Library director, documents the budget, book circulation and program attendance in graphs. That’s about facts.

Ault also sees the impact of the library on human lives — measured in laughter, learning and love of literature. That lies in the abstract.

But the cold, hard facts are having a chilling effect on the human element who both operate the library and depend on it as a valuable resource.

Ault’s graphs show book circulation statistics topping 200,000 in 2008 and program attendance at 11,000 people. Though those figures have increased or remained steady over the last few years, the state-funded library budget has steadily declined.

“This is a service business. It will affect what we can do,” she said.

In fact, for this year, Ault said, “We don’t know what we’re getting.” She pointed out the estimate for 2009, provided to her in August 2008, was $849,185. That figure was revised to $757,304 in December 2008 and then to $667,118 in July. “I don’t think we’ll be getting that amount,” she said.

Ault said it revolves around Gov. Ted Strickland’s proposed cuts to Ohio’s public-library funding. She noted that the Public Library Fund, which is by law 2.2 percent of the general revenue fund of the state, is the funding source for libraries. But the sluggish economy has caused revenue in that fund to drop as well.

Hubbard is a member of Trumbull Independent Public Libraries along with Bristol, Girard, Kinsman, Newton Falls and Niles.

Ault said the state budget reduced library funding from 2.2 percent to 1.97 percent. For Hubbard library, that means it will receive 70 percent less funding in 2010 than it did in 2000. Right now, the projected amount is $488,974 for next year.

She also noted that the state’s fiscal year begins in July, but the library operates on a calendar-year budget. So the funding cut came in the middle of the library year.

Less funding for libraries is translating into reductions in all areas of library service. Ault said that salaried employees have taken a 5 percent pay cut. Hourly workers have gone from 40 hours to 30 and lost their benefits, and 20-hour workers went to 10 hours.

“Next will be staff cuts,” Ault said, noting these will happen by Nov. 1.

Cuts have prompted an adjustment in library hours. As of Aug. 17, the library went from being open 60 hours a week to 45 hours. On Nov. 1, that will go to 40 hours.

And, one of Hubbard library’s most popular youth programs, Library Commons, which was developed in 2007, will end Nov. 1. Library Commons, geared to those in seventh grade and higher, provides a place for youths to study, read, use computers, talk on cell phones, watch movies, use the Wii gaming system or just relax.

Along with the Library Commons, Ault said children’s programming will see other cuts through the end of the year and next year.

“Every age is affected,” Ault said. She said services to homebound patrons, some of whom need large-print books, also will be curtailed.

A wall of Star Supporters at the information desk displays names of patrons who have made monetary donations to the library.

The library’s board will meet Sept. 21 and will review changes. “The cuts have to be made by Nov. 1 so that we have money to make it to the end of the year, ” Ault said.

Bonnie Viele is president of Friends of the Library, which has about 100 members. “Our role is changing,” she said.

The volunteer organization, she said, has provided funds for an outdoor sign, a gazebo in the children’s room and garden outside the children’s area, sponsored the summer reading program and bought equipment and provided healthy snacks in Library Commons. In light of the funding cuts, she noted, funds from Friends now may go toward the necessities rather than the extras.

Hubbard Public Library, 436 W. Liberty St., Hubbard, is making adjustments in staff, programs and services in the face of loss of funding. Sherry Ault is director; Geraldine Bray, assistant director and circulation and technical services supervisor; Mary Ann Russo, children’s librarian; and Sandra Walter, adult services.

Children’s room program cuts August through December 2009: Kinderfest, a celebration of the beginning of school; Family Nights, family-centered learning; Breakfast and Books, series for kindergarten through fourth-graders; Art Adventures, series for kindergarten through fourth-graders on art in literature; Holiday Happenings, kindergarten through fourth-grade students read holiday-theme books and make related crafts; Snack and Yak Book Club, fifth- through eighth-graders’ monthly book discussion; and Snack and Yak Poetry Club, fifth- through eighth-graders’ monthly session on poetry and journaling.

Projected cuts in 2010: Roosevelt Reads Family Event, large-scale family night; Art Cart, semi-monthly craft projects; Butterfly Release, patrons of all ages participate; Lunch and Books, series for kindergarten through fourth grade at lunch with food-themed books; and Library Laughs, kindergarten through fourth grade series on humorous stories and creative projects.

Web site: Library patrons logged on nearly 25,000 times in 2008. A gift from the estate of Helen Schneider made it possible for the library to apply for matching funds for a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant for 10 new computers and funds to maintain them for five years. Ault said the cutbacks in staff will cut out the one-on-one help staff had provided to people using library computers to apply for jobs, financial aid for college and unemployment benefits. Click the Readers’ Resources Tab to register for information about the library. Computer users need a library card and number for access.

TIPL: Hubbard is a member of Trumbull Independent Public Libraries along with Bristol, Girard, Kinsman, Newton Falls and Niles.

Book sale: Friends will sponsor a book sale with a preview from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30 and hours from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 1-3..

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