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State cuts funding and library cuts programs Featured

A nearly 50 percent cut in state funding has led to the Bolivar County Library System cutting several services.

Jennifer Wann, director of the Bolivar County Library System, said the library system experienced an annual loss of $32,538 in funding from the prior 10-year average of $65,696.

Wann explained in order to maintain a budget for print and e-books, Internet access and operating hours, the library system would eliminate subscriptions to Rocket Language, which helped patrons learn a second language.

The system would also not renew subscriptions with Ancestry Library, HeritageQuest Online and Freegal Music Service.

“The legislature has implemented some very significant corporate tax cuts that are effecting revenue and cut many state agency budgets,” Wann explained. “They also made mid-year cuts in FY17 and reduced their budgets for FY18.”

“We’re very lucky in Bolivar County because we do have strong local support. We haven’t had to layoff, reduce service hours or close branches but not all public libraries can say that. There are libraries that are closing because of these state cuts,” said Wann.

Wann added if additional mid-year budget cuts are made by the state, it might mean reducing service hours.

“That’s bad for our community. We are already able to only offer very limited hours. We close at 6 p.m. in Cleveland, which is kind of early. Then in our other branches it’s even worse. We don’t have any evening and weekend hours in the other branches.

“For people who work, that makes it difficult to get their kids to the library to do their school projects. We don’t want to make it any more difficult than it already is but additional state cuts will force us to those kinds of decisions.

“Please let your state legislator know how important state funding is to our public library.”

In addition to state funding, a majority of BCLS’s funding comes from the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors, as well as funding from local municipalities.

Wann said funding has not been cut on the local level.

"We’re are very lucky to have the local support from our funding authorities but also from civil groups and individuals. The state situation is bleak but locally we have so much to be thankful for."

However Wann added that the library system has not received a percentage increase from local funders in a decade.

Wann said an increase would help to keep up with inflation.

“We’ve really expanded our technology outcome with adding Wi-Fi in Rosedale and Merigold, it’s really important to our patrons so we had find other places in our budget.

 

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