Though many who work at the MCDPL are relieved the cuts weren’t as severe as proposed, services in Meigs County will still be affected by the 11 percent budget cut which was passed by the Ohio Legislature after a 13-day standoff at the state house over a $3.2 billion budget shortfall.
Last week the Meigs County Library Board met to discuss how to deal with a possible 30 percent budget cut and how to maintain some level of services to patrons. The Board decided to close the Middleport, Racine and Eastern Library branches and lay off three part-time and five full-time employees effective July 25. This leaves the MCDPL with 11 employees.
In addition, hours at the Pomeroy Library, which receives the most usage, went from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday, to 9 a.m. - 8 p.m., Monday-Thursday; from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, to 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s hours at the Pomeroy Library remained unchanged from 1-5 p.m.
Meigs County District Public Library Director Kristi Eblin said even though the 11 percent cut in the library’s budget was not as steep as the proposed 30 percent, it still remains to be seen whether some of the decisions made at the last Board meeting will be changed. In addition to the 11 percent cut, libraries have already received a 20 percent budget cut this year, meaning the MCDPL has 31 percent less income to work with than it had last year.
The Meigs County Library Board next meets on July 27, two days after aforementioned budget cutting measures go into effect. Eblin said she couldn’t say what, if any decisions, will be changed from the last Board meeting. Eblin said obviously she hopes to have the Middleport, Racine and Eastern branches open at least one day a week; reinstate standing book orders (the MCDPL also had to cancel any orders for new releases); and bring some employees back. However, at this point, those hopes are a wish list until she sees the actual numbers the library will be dealing with after this additional 11 percent cut.
Eblin explained the cut is actually changing the formula for which the library receives funding, going from getting 2.2 percent of the general revenue fund to 1.97 of the general revenue fund. The MCDPL has no local levy to support it and receives only state money to remain in operation.
As for the closure of the Middleport, Eastern and Racine branches, Eblin said the MCDPL will continue to maintain the buildings until the financial crisis hopefully passes.
The further cuts in the library budget come at a time when more and more patrons are utilizing free services they can no longer afford, including applying for unemployment benefits online, searching for employment, etc. Eblin said several of the patrons were very outspoken about the cuts to local legislators.
“They were amazing with their response,” Eblin said of the outspoken patrons. “We appreciate all they’ve done and are going to do the best we can with what we have to work with.”