Libraries brace for budget cuts

CROWN POINT - Local libraries could feel the impact of state budget cuts.

For the fifth time in two years, a reduction has been proposed in state aid to library programs in the state budget.

The governor's budget proposal includes a 2.8 percent cut in library assistance. This cut, if it comes to fruition, means state aid for libraries would be $18 million - 18 percent - less than it was in 2007-2008.

Libraries in Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Schroon Lake and Crown Point are part of the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library system. Local officials are preparing to do with less.

"The main way that the cuts would affect us would be the decreased funding for the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library system," said Jackie Viestenz, director of the Sherman Free Library in Port Henry. "We depend on the van they provide to deliver the inter-library books that our patrons want that we cannot afford to buy with our limited book budget. Last year we received 1,915 items through inter-library loan. The van comes once a week to deliver items and it is full now. If CEF had to cut back on this, it would mean decreased services for our library.

"Our library receives $1,475 from the state," Viestenz said. "This is a small portion of our $33,000 budget. If it is cut, we would have to do more local fund raising in order to provide the same level of services that we currently provide."

The Hammond Library in Crown Point would lose $270 of its annual $40,950 budget in the proposed state spending plan, but that's not the issue, according to Wendy Terbeek, director.

"The bigger picture is that in the last few years we have been consistently losing either funding or services," Terbeek said. "Therefore, we either have to drop or fund those services from our own budget. We used to get $800 - $1,000 each year for training expenses through CEF and they were also the supplier of the materials we need to process our books and other materials. This means we now must spend another $500 or so for book covers, card pockets, due date cards, etc.

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