There has been lots of talk lately, on the news and in the paper about closing two branches of the Lincoln City Libraries: South Branch and Bethany Branch. In tough economic times everyone has to make some tough decisions. I'd like to know what you think. Here is what was written in the Lincoln Journal Star:
The Library Board of Trustees voted 3-2 to propose closing the Bethany and South branch libraries when members met to finalize their budget proposal on Tuesday.
Under the proposed budget, the board also recommends cutting the equivalent of 13.75 full-time employees. Those positions would come from libraries where hours were cut. A seniority system would determine who would lose their jobs.
The board was asked to submit a proposal that cut current spending by 9 percent, which means a decrease of about $781,022, including lost revenues, said Pat Leach, director of Lincoln City Libraries.
Board member Marlene Cupp, who voted against the proposal, said it bothered her that two areas of the city could be without libraries.
“But I’m more bothered that it diminishes the opportunities for children to use the library,” Cupp said.
On Monday afternoon, a group of Sheridan Elementary fourth-graders protested the possible closing of the South Branch outside the library at 27th and South streets.
“I would say the tragedy would be if we proposed closing libraries and nobody cared,” Leach said. “Apathy would be horrible.”
If funds become available, Leach said, the board will ask that the two branches remain open.
The library board’s budget also included proposals to:
* Decrease expenditures on as many items as possible — from supplies to contracted services like snow removal or maintenance, Leach said.
* Close Bennett Martin Public Library one day a week.
* Schedule four fewer hours a week at the Anderson, Walt and Eiseley branches.
If money becomes available, the board’s first priority would be to restore the Bethany and South libraries to 24 hours a week (six four-hour days or three eight-hour days, for instance), Leach said. The second priority is to keep Bennett Martin open seven days a week; next is restoring the hours cut at Anderson, Walt and Eiseley; and finally, restoring full service hours at Bethany and South.
This is by no means a done deal, Leach said. The mayor still has to approve a budget, which the City Council will vote on in August.
“A lot could change between now and August,” she said.