• PG Library Board: Coping with cuts

    By Cameron Douglas

    It’s final: On May 20, City Council approved a library budget of $610,389. This includes a General Fund appropriation of $401,025; $65,000 in program revenues; $70,000 for books and materials from the Book and Trust Funds; $50,000 from Friends of the Library and $23,000 from the Building Fund. The Friends have also agreed to donate another $8,000 to the part-time library staff budget.

    As of July 1, the library hours will be cut from the current 31 hours a week down to 24. Initially, the hours were to be cut to 20, but creative thinking and donations improved the situation. Proposed new hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11-6 and Fridays and Saturdays from 12-5. Fines and fees will be raised: adult late fees will go from $.25 to $.50 per day, and Interlibrary Loan fees will increase from $1 to $3 per item.

    Pamela Jungerberg, the reference librarian who also blogs for the library, presented a decisively thorough compilation of the recently conducted patrons’ survey. She reported that out of 200 surveys placed at the library’s front desk, 150 were filled out. Seventy percent of the surveys were filled out by people over age 50. People aged 30-49 filled out 23 percent, while those under 30 made up the rest. She displayed a chart that showed the great majority of those surveyed have a preference for afternoon hours. Monday mornings were decidedly unpopular times for the library to be open. People said they are most likely to visit on Wednesdays. People are most likely to attend programs for adults in the evenings, particularly Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Fifty percent of those surveyed said they use other libraries, and many said that is because of the PGPL’s reduced hours.

    People who took the survey were encouraged to share comments, and they did:

    “It is important to stay open some hours for people who work from 8 to 5.”

    “We attend every children’s program available.”

    “Is it possible the library could remain open for extra hours or days with volunteer labor? If so, I’d love to volunteer…”

    “This is all wrong. Libraries, the arts, music, etc. are reflective of a great civilization. Ours is sadly in decline. This is a beautiful, wealthy area with plenty of money; you should reprioritize and have the libraries open seven days a week.”

    “Is it possible to check with other cities where hours are not curtailed?”

    “Please tax me more to pay for the library!”

    With the departure of Susan Steele, there are now two vacancies to be filled on the Board. Several qualified individuals have been contacted, but so far no one has accepted. Applications for Library Board membership can be downloaded from the city’s website at: www.ci.pg.ca.us.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on June 11, 2009

    Topics: Cameron Douglas, Current Edition, Front PG News

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